This is how you run an RPG, people.

Last night, on Roll20, I was part of a one-shot playtest of Venger SatanisCrimson Dragon Slayer system.

CDS is a “rules light OSR game ruleset”–but that description doesn’t do it justice.

Think back to playing with toys as a kid, and you and a bunch of friends all have action figures and are telling a story with them. But then Mark says that G I Joe shot Mr. Spok, and Leo says, “Nu-huh, Spok shot Joe first!” and then everybody starts fighting and goes home mad and Ted took your army man tank and now he won’t give it back ’cause he says it’s his.

Imagine if there had been some way that everyone agreed on to settle those kinds of fights before they started. That’s what Crimson Dragon Slayer is.

Allow me to reproduce my character sheet below:

Niblog the Terrible. 1/2 Orc Fighter. Duel wields swords. Has a Fearsome Reputation. Chaotic. 10 hit points.

That’s it. That is literally all I needed to keep track of to run a character.

In addition to Niblog, we had a Demon Thief called Gabstill, a Human Wizard named Irvine Of Arcadia, a Halfling Fighter named Barc, Antiochus Bulgar, a Human Cleric of The Meatlord, and ST-K1, a Stealth Droid.

Dump out any kid’s Lego box and pick a handful of minifigs at random, and you get the basic idea. Elapsed time for the entirety of character creation for all players was maybe seven minutes.

“Ok, briefly… Cha’alt is a desert world, a mix of old tech and sorcery, hostile but full of opportunity. All of you are currently residing in the prison cells beneath the palace. You’re in the city of A’agrybah. You have all your armor and weapons. Awaiting judgement for your various crimes. Roll a d8 if you want to know what you did to end up here.”

That was Venger’s introduction to the adventure. And then we were off and running.

First the droid tried picking the lock, but that didn’t work. While we were discussing what to do next we hear a female voice calling through the door and promising to let us out of the cell in exchange for our help in reaching another part of Cha’alt.

Given that the guard had just informed us that we were scheduled for execution in the morning, we decided to go with the mysterious femme fatale on her enigmatic mission. Sure, we’d probably all die, but we would certainly be killed if we stuck around. So we followed her (she introduced herself as “Raca’ana. I’m a palace concubine.”)  Raca’ana led us down a hallway to a room with two guards and we killed the guards.

Roll to hit. Roll damage. You’re done.

In the palace dungeon there was a mysterious room filled with arcane carvings that functioned as a magic portal to take us where we wanted to go.


The Wizard manages to activate the portal and we pass through and there, gleaming in the light of multiple odd-colored moons, if the fabled Black Pyramid Of Cha’alt.

Raca’ana then says, “There’s a magical necklace I need… it’s somewhere inside. Let’s find a way in before we’re spotted.”

Niblog grumbles a bit at this, since the original deal was to get her to the Black Pyramid, not explore the darned thing looking for jewelry, but she says that all she wants is the necklace and we can keep any other loot we find. The party agrees to delve.

The first room we enter has a ball pit in the center and some weird glowing crystals on the walls. Exhibiting the same level of prudence and good judgement that toddlers use when sticking forks in electrical outlets, the party starts messing with the glowing crystals.

Niblog advises against that and goes so far as to open one of the exit doors, but waits for the rest of the party. In hindsight, I should have just left them behind.

Because once the Wizard and the two Thieves manage to get all the crystals to light up in the same color, bad things happen. Unearthly voices begin speaking, talking about desire and tasting sweet flesh and then these hooked chains fly out of the walls.

We all get to roll saving throws and everybody makes it–except for Niblog. In a moment of  Direct To Video Horror Movie Irony, the one character who tried to warn the party against messing with Things Man Was Meant To Know is the guy who gets ripped to pieces by flying hooks just like Frank Cotton in the opening scene in Hellraiser.

The surviving members of the party decide to leave the room through the door that Niblog opened, and at that point we were out of time. All things considered, it was a great way to spend an evening. And I don’t even feel bad about losing a character, because I can just make another one for the next game.

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, Hard Weird and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to This is how you run an RPG, people.

  1. Venger Satanis says:

    And his torn to pieces body parts spelled out “I told you so!”

    Good write-up, hoss. See you next game. 😉

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