Friday, January 13, 2017


Reginald Cruft, my player character in Ben L’s Dreamlands game is a 19th century American veteran of Union side of the US Civil War, and by 1885 a 47 year old failed medical student and raving drug addict.  In his delirious and debauched state he has dreams, and these dreams have recently been very consistent - they have been of the Dreamlands. In the Dreamlands Cruft is a wizard, capable of some minor feats of charm and mesmerism (though at second level he has the spells “Charm Person, Sleep and Enlrage/Reduce - the last being hard for him to justify as mere mesmerism).

Below is a table for the effects of the various overdoses that push Cruft into the Dreamlands and how they change him during his travels there.  Presumably when Cruft dies in the Dreamlands, his body, wracked with overdose, will be found in his filthy New York garret or a dingy go down opium den.
Drug of Choice
Dreamlands Side Effects
Stronger and faster, harder in every way, a jarring transition from the waking world to the Dream. Within everything feels heavy and slow, a molasses of impossibility.  Dreamer will act last in party initiative order regardless of action for the rest of the session.
Taking the Cure
Painful body wrecking withdrawal symptoms. All Physical stats reduced by 3 for the session and spell slots reduced by 1 (highest level spell).
Raw Corn Spirits
Cheap searing alcohol in grand draughts leaves the dreamer with guts like water and a susceptibility to the slightest pain, body running with sweats.  For the rest of the session any blow to the dreamer will stun him or her for a round in addition to doing damage.
Cocaine Lozenges
Fractured and jangling, the good feeling of the waking world crumbles into totten bone and a searing pain behind the eyes, leaving the dreamer irritable and suggestible (-2 to all saves v. spells or paralysis) for the session.
Fly Agaric
It’s hard to know where the visions ended and the Dream began, but while the ‘real’ occasionally flashes back into the dream in the form of remembered faces, and glimpses of a dusty window, there’s no effect on the Dreamer’s functionality.
The sailor's’ consolation, a gut ripping glass of nutmeg tea causes pleasant enough dreams after the vomiting subsides.  Within the Dreamlands, the sense of smell seems stronger.
The pestilential pipe, a daily pleasure, provides for a swift transport and brightly colored experience in the land of Dreams.
Gassy Lager
Despite a certain thickness of the tongue and a tendency towards flatulence the side effects of this tipple are limited, though everything in the Dreamlands resembles a cartoon version of itself from the pages of a cheap pamphlet.
McMunn's Elixir of Opium
Patent medicine for the toothache and the cramp, but to those in the know it’s a fine tincture of opium, and smoother than the raw stuff. The shift from waking body to dream body is smoother to, making the dreamers body a closer approximation of the ideal then the actual and providing +1 HP per Hit Die for the session.
A dream within the dream, spaces retreating fractal and numberless, the mind of the Dreamer is open to possibility and may cast and memorize spells as if one level higher.
A good night drinking bonded rye whiskey lead to riotous dreams of superiority.  Dreamer’s melee attacks are at +1 hit.
Conditional Sobriety
Unable to soothe his fevered mind with more than a few scrapings of a pipe or the last finger of whiskey or two, the Dreamer has staved off withdrawal sickness, but is still sweating and paranoid.  Falling to sleep while cooing over a loaded 1851 Colt Naval revolver.  The revolver has slid into the Dreamlands, a weapon that may be used in two ear shattering fusillades before exhausting its ammo. It will fade after one session should the dreamer remain in the Dreamlands.

1851 Naval Colt: ATK as Explosive/AOE - Explosion Value 2 - Damage 1D8, may cause morale check, random encounter check.  

Friday, December 30, 2016

Spelljammer - Rocks of Shardspace

The day singers of Chapel Crag sing the World Lay, in ten hour shifts, rejoicing and wallowing in the beauty of the world when it was whole, water, air, greenstuff and plenty.  The toilers along the Crag's terminator take solace in these words as their worn hoes cut the pumice soil and nurse every seedling with monastic care.  The night singers, face out their own, opposite windows in the towers of song, cry the Dirge of the Fall of Man into the unforgiving night, and its echoes glance from the slumbering ruins and cracked cold earth, haunting the dreams of those who struggle on the nightside, and forever re-imagine the great shattering that broke the world, and the first childlike cruelty of the infant god as it hatched from within.

Aiming for not Quite Fantasy, not Quite Sci-fi
- Chris Foss

My ship, "The Groomsman's Demure", floats among the rocks and crags, it's old hull of spun night silver over hard iron ribs, cut down, razee to a 24 port sixth rate, 89 souls aboard, but well founded and with sturdy leak free tanks, newly tarred that allow us to cruise long among the shattered  crags of the Shardcloud.  A letter of mark from Brawl Rock gives us the justification to seize what we will, but more it is a pass to travel where we wish and pick the rich bones of shattered worlds.  We seek rare prey, Dread Spindral or Boward's Luck, a bastion world of the 3rd Arcane Integrem, plundered once in a cursory manner 80 years ago by Captain Boward of the "Lark", before retreating again into the deadly cold space of the Licheside.   The Spindral is hurtling back now on a long elliptic and with Boward's notes, the services of a Red Sage and the visions bought dearly from the Night Singers, I know where she'll cross the Green Belt.   

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Total Party Kills, Death Saves and Character Mortality

I was recently exchanging comments with a Dungeon of Signs reader regarding the use of dragons and other extremely scary high-level creatures in low level adventures.  I'm for it, but my interlocutor made the point (a decent one really) that for new players character death, especially a total party kill is a really discouraging thing and might discourage someone from tabletop roleplaying.  This got me thinking about "Total Party Kills", and I realized that I've never run one, and never experienced one as a player, at least since returning to games as an adult. The very next time I ran a game though there was a furious animated furniture based massacre of the entire party, and everyone felt pretty good about it.
Edger Samuel Paxson - Custer's Last Stand (1899ish)
This general lack of 'TPKs' may seem shocking, especially as I run and play games using older systems, or retro-clones that have a reputation for being exceptionally deadly to characters (Like LOTFP - which actually has lenient death rules).  It's also not to say that characters haven't died with frequency and finality in games I've run and played with - even beloved characters, nor to say that this isn't upsetting.  I was quite aggrieved when my Hill Canton's character, the Eldish renegade "Tizzird" died from the single blow of a strange fractal demon thing.  His replacement "Killer" Ponzi the mob enforcer is somewhat less enjoyable.  Yet despite frequent character deaths, things never seem to come to the dread Total Party Kill, and I think this has a lot more to do with play-style and GM attitude then ruleset.  

In the past I've suggested that the death of characters and even entire parties is positive to the tabletop roleplaying experience - and I stand by the idea that character development is more fun when it happens through play cooperatively with setting development, and that the death of characters is part of this development.  This may seem contrary to a lot of players and GM's experience, and I've seen plenty of discussions about how character death is campaign destroying.  So the question becomes, why one would want a game where character death is a regular risk and how to do so without having problems or spoiling the fun of the game.

I think the why is very clear.  Games are more fun when there is a way to lose or when there are setbacks, and for a story of fantasy adventure character death is a clear loss condition.  It is also a way of signalling a loss that has little impact on the other players in a group.  If loss results in a negative effect to a character (turned to stone, sucked into a dimension of punishment) reversing this effect or rescuing that character almost always becomes the other players' goal, unless the player whose character has been negatively effected insists otherwise.  This can be a fun element of a tabletop game, but it should be rare and not the dominant result of in-game failure, because it prevents the players from completing or working on their own goals and plans.

The Saint of Killers is a vary boring Player Character
One of the key things to legitimizing character death is to make sure that everyone at the table thinks it's fair, and recognizes that it's the result of informed player decision or risk taking, rather then GM fiat, trickery or malice.  This means that where there is high character mortality, non-adversarial play is even more important then ever.

What do I mean by "non-adversarial play"?  It's pretty simple, playing tabletop role-playing games as a cooperative game or story telling venture between everyone at the table, but especially between the GM and the players.  The GM is not trying to 'get' or trick the players into losing, but rather attempting to create and environment/setting for the players to explore and adventure in.  The best way to do this while including terrible monsters, deadly traps and  this is to be a magnanimous GM and remember that the players are operating only based on the information you as the GM are giving them.

First it's good to assume that when a player has their character do something seemingly self-destructive (say leap into a very deep well) that they misunderstood your description.  Always double check and even re-describe the danger.  Something like "The well vanishes down into the blackness, it looks like a really long drop - do you really want to jump down it?"  More often then not the player will reveal that they misunderstood your description (i.e. they thought the well was a five foot drop to water or something) and change their plans.  If the character still does the seemingly suicidal activity, then it's not as if anyone at the table can reasonably feel the GM tricked a player into killing their character when the inevitable happens. That's being fair to one's players and it goes as far as giving the players reasonable clues about traps and how dangerous monsters appear, even when they don't specifically ask.  Remember that as the GM you control the entire subjective experience of the characters.  If you say "There's this big lizard in the room, and it looks cranky" the player may envision an iguana, while the GM knows this thing is closer to Godzilla.  Use description, and if you're terrible at that, even provide a clear statement that the enemy is dangerous. Remember the character certainly knows a 30' long lizard can likely swallow them whole, even if the player hasn't been given enough information to recognize that fact.

Adversarial, "killer GMs" have another terrible habit beyond withholding information about dangers, they also demand that the players provide 'perfect' responses to dangers.  The classic example of this is a swift moving underground stream. A killer GM will make the players roll a series of saves to avoid being swept away and drowned unless the players carefully describe their efforts to cross the stream - doffing armor, setting up ropes, using poles to prob the stream bed etc.  Now a non-killer GM might make the players make the same rolls to avoid being swept away, but only after letting them know about the risks, because their characters, being competent dungeoneering types, would spot that the swift moving water was dangerous to enter without removing their armor, or taking some other precautions.  GMs should assume character competence. Does a beast look diseased?  The characters will notice the acidic puss dripping from its jaws, before they have to save v. death when it bites them.  Does the rope bridge look ancient and frayed?  The characters will notice that it might be unsafe, before plunging into the depths. Is the narrow bridge above the lava made of slick obsidan, characters will notice and cross slowly and carefully - without the player telling the GM. Again, by giving both players and characters the benefit of the doubt, and accepting that errors in player observation are most likely errors in GM description (boxed text makes this worse as often neither players nor GM pay attention to it).

This same tactic works for traps and similar engines of character destruction - the key is being consistent.  Whenever a player says "I open the door" for example, I always confirm - "You reach out and grab the handle to pull it open?"  Usually the player adds something else, usually about using a 10' pole with a hook on it.  That means they survive some simple door traps, but are far less likely to complain when the door opens to reveal a howling vortex into the depths of space because as a GM I have been playing fair with them (howling space vortexes make for very chilly doors if you ever need to check for them).

Both of these ideas, confirming if players want to commit to potentially dangerous actions (or any serious action really) by making sure they have all appropriate information, and assuming character competence, go a long way toward making sure that player choice leads to character death not confusion, GM vindictiveness or bad GM description.  Yes, as a GM you can present situations where almost all choices are deadly, and this isn't adversarial - as long as you provide hints, clues and signs of danger, and don't prey on player's failure to explain simple precautions as the mechanisms that lead to character death.

More then making character death or a total party kill feel like part of the game rather then the end of the game, one needs to treat them as such.  This is one of the dangers I see with narrative based campaigns.  If the heroes of the story die it is very hard for the story to continue.  Yes, sandbox players develop plans, discover world-wide NPC schemes and build backstory - but they do so without the baked in expectation that these elements are the focus of the campaign, and because the setting is designed around setting, not narrative, changes, including character death, are much easier to incorporate.  This isn't an attack on narrative play, or it's not intended as such, and it's not something novel - Dragon's of Despair famously requires the GM to keep canonical characters alive to keep the adventure path's story moving forward.  It's just that in a narrative based adventure structure (where adventure moves through a branching set of story options) character death is extremely undesirable, and forces unanticipated, drastic rewrites of the core game structure - the narrative.  This seems especially true in D&D based games where the mechanics aren't really built around narrative progression as much as exploration.  It may be much easier to work out in different systems that are built for narrative play.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fallen Empire, Carcosan Nonsense - A table of metaphors, lies, and explanations.

Inspired largely by this post at Rotten Pulp, and by a nice big hangover binge on Calvino, I've prepared this handy table.  Useful perhaps for when people ask scholars or oracles how the game world came to be a sublime ruin teetering toward the aesthetic of grotesque.  Of course you might find it useful for other reasons as well - for example I'm keeping it open on my phone to help talk to relatives at Thanksgiving.

Michael S. Hutter paintings are always good for inspiration.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

BlackSun DeathCrawl - A Review

BlackSun DeathCrawl was published in 2015 by James MacGeorge.  It’s a pay what you want PDF
and I’d call it one of those great free (or nearly so) products of the OSR that are made with heart and singular vision.  The book itself is 64 pages, though much of that is made up of ominous prophetic statements in large fonts and lovely full page etchings from the common domain (I recognize a lot of Gustav Dore’s illustrations from Dante’s Divine Comedy) that really add to the setting feel.  Actual, game ready content takes up far fewer pages, but that’s okay, because the Deathcrawl at its best is less of a module or adventure then setting for playing very grim survival based dungeon crawl. The adventure part of the books is actually its weakest, a set of scene based encounters that while unrelentingly bleak and open-ended provide a bare skeleton of an adventure that doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the setting.  That promise though and the horrifically spare setting itself are wonderful and make up for the minor weaknesses of other areas.

One such minor issue is that Deathcrawl uses DCC as it’s basis, which makes for some rules kludge that needs to be converted for most, but this is minimal and Deathcrawl generally avoids the fidgety nature of the DCC system by eliminating all classes except fighters.


“And yet the Cursed dig...because they have forgotten what it means to do anything but dig, fight and flee.”

That’s typical of the somewhat lyrical, somewhat overwrought declarations that MacGeorge  uses as the main setting vehicle.  Even setting rules (all players begin as a level 1 warrior) are communicated in this way, and it makes for an effective enough system to communicate setting and feel.  It’s rather evocative really, and allows justifies Deathcrawl’s interesting rules changes (Death occurs by burning up a character’s ‘hope’ - formerly Luck in the DCC rules and by the steady accumulation of terrible mutations).  More than anything Blacksun DeathCrawl feels bleak and allegorical, a mystery play from some religion based on Black Metal Album covers rather than normal tabletop fantasy or the series of evocative vignettes that the module sets out to promote ‘moral’ play (in the sense that more of the play derives from making moral decisions, not that it forces players into having a specific moral stance).  Yet I suspect it’s best played as a dungeon crawl where finding a way deeper to escape the Black Sun’s torturous light and unstoppable minions while discovering food and water are the only goals.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Monster Design and Necessity

So D&D 5E is about to put out a new monster manual... Volo's Guide to Monsters  it might be awful, and it might be really cool.  It sounds like they are focusing more on unreliable narrators and ecology to tell a lot more detail about the monsters in the book, rather then just provide a cacophony of statistics.  Now I fear Volo's Guide will not amuse me, though it is definitely taking cues from Patrick Stuart and Scrap Princesses "Fire on the velvet Horizon", but only because I don't think Elminster flavor text can be anything but dreadful.
Arthur Rackham
(because one needs better goblins)

Still there are things to be said about monster design, and I agree with Mike Merles and 5E when they want to focus on the intangibles of their monsters: their behaviors, ecology, hooks related to them and similar inspirational information for the GM - up to a point.  Monsters are iconic and a central theme to table top fantasy, and doing them well goes a long way towards doing a game well.  The issue is - what's really useful and necessary in a monster design, especially one published as a supplement.  For this I think to the games I've played recently and what makes encounters in them good.

I'm been playing in Ben of "Marazin's Garden's" Dreamlands game a bit and I have noticed that one of the things I enjoy is that we've yet to encounter any monster from a book, at least as far as description and characterization goes.  To me this is a mark of a good campaign and good world building. 

Using unique monsters means among other things that the GM needs to describe them and that the players need to think about them as more then a reference to a Monster Manual.  One of my major complaints about published modules, and even the 5E Monster Manual, is a lack of description for monsters, beyond dull formalities.  There is a balance in designing pre-made monsters, somewhere between several pages of (likely dull with Elminster invoked) of genre fiction the Volo's Guide promises and the terse statistics based descriptions found in the Little Brown Books. I'm not sure where exactly it lies, certainly Fire on the Velvet Horizon is pretty lyrical in its monster descriptions, but its a fun read because its descriptions are full of evocative detail that gets a GM thinking about how to use the monsters described within - and of course anything done well is better then the best thing done badly.

Personally however I have little use for Monster Manuals, even good ones.  For me, the aesthetics of monsters aren't hard to think up and design, and the most important element about an encounter is that it makes sense in the setting.  I tend to run non-standard settings, and making monsters that fit those settings, tell stories about the setting and generally provide a point for player interaction, wonder and decision making is often far easier then fitting monsters from other sources into a non-standard setting.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Curse of Strahd - Table of Cheap Jewelry (and implicit criticism)


My readers may think that I have absolutely no time for the tabletop products produced by Wizard's of the Coast and would rather laud "Maze of the Blue Medusa" and everything Hydra Co-op puts out, but this isn't entirely true.  Let's face it OSR/DIY D&D types, WOTC has the best market penetration and is going to be far more widely read then any other tabletop product.  I want these products to be good, I want people who plunk down $50 for a hardcover high production value (though frankly not up to the production value of the better LOTFP products and Maze of the Blue Medusa) book to think "D&D is awesome!" - they just haven't been in my experience.  Until now(ish)!
A sad lady one meets early in the Curse of Strahd
one of many decent, topical pieces of art
Yeah I'll say it Curse of Strahd is good.  It has problems, some the typical Hickman problems of being campy and thinking it's more clever then it is (a problem that almost all OSR/DIY self published products - say "Maze of the Blue Medusa" and "Slumbering Ursine Dunes" arguably share in a different ways and degrees) and some typical WOTC problems of trying to cross market product and play to video-game sensibilities (that no OSR product - even the worst bit of Gygax emulating randomly generated from the 1st edition DMG cruft - shares).  I may write a full review at some point, but really it doesn't have unforgivable problems and provides plenty of material for a GM (as well as good GMing advice - shockingly). 

One thing Curse of Strahd suffers from, though at least they are trying - clearly they are trying - is mediocre treasure. I can't shake the suspicion that 5E doesn't see treasure as important and still relies heavily on the idea of character advancement through dynamic 'combat as sport' murder (of baddies, clearly only the murder of baddies) which I like to call "Judgmental Murderhoboism", but at least they are trying to make treasure interesting.  One area where Curse of Strahd fails utterly, predictably and awfully is the repeated use of "Cheap Jewelry" - often found in wholesale lots and always worth 25GP as treasure.  Now eliding the question of if 2.5 lbs, or say 2 for craftsmanship, using the classic D&D weight for GP, of gold can be considered 'cheap' (and one can't blame Curse of Strahd for this system and genre wide failure), I think this was a missed opportunity to add a lot of evocative setting  detail to the adventure.  It's funny too, because the module does provide numerous small random tables for an ongoing joke about macabre children's toys - clearly the wit and wisdom was there - but the two pages a good 'cheap jewelry' table would take were less important then a few more paragraphs of typically Hickman purple prose about the twisted narcissistic love of Strahd or some copy repeating the idea that the vampire lord is evil via more boxed text.

Barovians from Curse of Strahd - again pretty good art that is setting specific.

I give you the "Barovian table of Cheap Jewelry" below:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

HMS Apollyon Art

Lately the HMS Apollyon is drawing me back in, I've started doing some doodles and here are a few.

This first is of the vessel from a birds eye view - not sure it captures scale well, but really there's nothing in the setting to measure it against so it'll have to do.

The second image I think does a better job of implying size, with a 50' yacht in the inset.  The location of the yacht is a similar marina entrance to the one used in my last online game, which I really should post a play report for.

The final two images are of different eras of Steward armor.  The first a steward in the molded garrison plate common when Sterntown still controlled a few heavy industrial factories and could roll and stamp heavy steel as well as mass produce rifles.  It's based on the experimental 'light body armor' prepared for the US army in 1918 - alloy steel over a rubber backing (WW1 armor is fascinating, from the heavy German armor for machine gunners, to the British layered silk stuff.  The US armor that the HMS Apollyon armor is based on was designed by the rather interesting eccentric and renaissance man Bashford Dean who was also a noted collector and expert on early modern and medieval armor. The second steward wears the standard armor of the Stewards (with rather garish parade helmet crest) from the period after "the retreat" which all of my games have taken place in.  Hand forged banded armor modeled after the roman lorica segmentata.  In game terms both are identical suits of AC 17 heavy armor.  I have decided that "Adsmus Custodes Pacis" or "We Assume Guardianship/Custody of the Peace" is an appropriately ironic motto for the stewards (They also have a motto about helping people and such maybe the Latin version of "Your Leisure is my Pleasure" spoken by Spud in "Train Spotting", but I haven't really decided yet.)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Monster Archaeology - Greater Undead

 If animated corpses, ghouls, wights and wraiths make up the common undead, D&D has always had room for more dangerous abdead foes, and unlike ghouls wights and wraiths, these more powerful undead are not simply increasingly dangerous versions of the same creature.  It's unclear exactly what purpose greater undead, as I've taken to calling spectres, mummies and vampires, serve in Monsters & Treasure, are they tougher versions of wraiths and wights to threaten higher level players, are they puzzle monsters designed to threaten mid level parties in small numbers or leaders of undead factions?   Whatever the intent powerful undead are an important part of the higher level random encounter tables and each represents a significant threat to characters.  Following the trend established with Lesser Undead, the danger from the more powerful creatures is largely the result of immunity to some attacks and the ability of their attacks to do permanent damage in the form of status effects.

Warhammer Fantasy has this wonderful way of breathing life into the cliche
MUMMIES: Mummies do not drain life energy as Wights and Wraiths do, but instead their touch causes a rotting disease which makes wounds take ten times the usual time for healing.  A Cleric can reduce this to only twice as long with a Cure Disease spell if administered within an hour.  Only magic weaponry will hit Mummies, and all hits and bonuses are at one-half value against them. Note, however, that Mummies are vulnerable to fire, including the ordinary kind of torch.

Mummies are strange creatures then, not much stronger then Wraiths, but more accurate and very slow (they have the same AC and 5+1 HD to a Wraith's 4), moving a a rate of '6', the same as zombies and skeletons.  They have a seemingly less terrible special attacks then wraiths and wights, causing a disease rather than draining life force but they are invulnerable to regular weapons, not just missiles.  It almost sounds like the Mummy is a stronger form of the animated corpse, the skeleton/zombie, rather then a quick, self-willed form of revenant like the ghoul, wight or wraith.

The most complex aspect of the mummy is it's special attack seems like a clumsy and confusing mechanic, especially in a system where a common convention is re-rolling HP at the start of each session.  My own take on "Mummy Rot" is that the disease prevents magical healing and reduces HP total to 1/2 the rolled amount at the start of each session. I'd also add a permanent -1 to HP even if the rot is cured by cure disease spell, plus the rot is disgusting and makes the character smell bad. Obviously there's a lot of room for a far more horrible disease, something with statistics loss and progressive HP damage culminating in death.  I'm not really sure if it's necessary as the consequences as written have a pretty nasty overall effect.  The only plus side of death by Mummy as opposed to death by Wraith is that the victim of a Mummy will not rise as a Mummy.

Monday, September 5, 2016

ASE CAMPIAGN - SESSION XII - The Irrefutable Offer

Looking through an old folder I found some notes on the last few seven session of the ASE campaign that started this blog back in 2012.  I've decided to maybe write a few up and see where it goes.  This is the first, starting directly after this Play Report.  I think this season was played late 2012 or something, before Huxley's player had a kid.

Huxley McTeeth - (m) Fighter (Lvl 2) - Short, strong, grizzled, armored, and wielding a magic white saber from the tomb of a Rocket Man.
Grimgrim "The Seared of Monstcrom"- (m) Cleric (Lvl 3) - Recently extra fervent. pig masked.
Druizzilnax (aka Drusilla) - (f) Elf (Lvl 1), physically frail, spear wielding, hideous armor wearing and from a society of militarized cannibals.
Nell Hassenphafler "The Topstown Gore Bird" - (f) Assassin (Lvl 3), Scarred face, sinewy physique, fancy purple metal dress and poison hatpins.
Lemon Jackson, Evoker - (m) Magic-User (Lvl 2) Gun totting, hell-bolt flinging and heavily tattooed.
Gurgur, Greymol - (m,m) Moktar, Moktar Holy Tom, (Lvl1,Lvl1) Moktar henchmen , serious catbrawn. 


Geof Darrow - A Denethix Street Scene?
Back in their dingy apartment, covered in the tiny scabs of grunkie inflicted wounds, Huxley, Nell, Lemon, Grimgrim and Drusilla wake to another day, stunned and sore and for the first time cannot begin an immediate debauch, the last bottle of hooch purloined from the depths of the Old Brewery having been spilled down Lemon's sweaty torso the night before. 

The booze brought back from their last adventure may be gone, but the desperation lingers. Nell's arm set in a crude cast, but clearly broken to the point where even Grimgrim's divinely aided ministrations won't quickly restore it to functionality.  The band needs a rest, a long rest, preferably somewhere peaceful, but it seems doubtful that their enemies will allow them one.  It's been a week since the raid on the Old Brewery's lower levels and each of the adventurers knows there will be a price to pay.  It's not clear who will come to collect, the Unyielding Fist, drug running gangsters, the death cult of Furter, or even Drusilla's anthropophagic relatives - but a debt has come due and payment is going to be rough.