Part 8: Master of Caverns' Bloodletting

Caverns & Chameleons Copyright © 1980, 1983, 1997 Mark Rose & Chris Adams. All rights reserved.

[Back to Part 7][C&C Main][Yamara Main]

MC'ing As A Fine Art

Although it is next to impossible to become a Master of Ceremonies for any major game show (i.e. Jeopardy, The Joker's Wild, Password, etc.), anyone can become a Master of Caverns for the game CAVERNS & CHAMELEONS. The most important asset and qualification an MC must have is that he hates everyone who is playing the game. It is also helpful if he enjoys the shedding of blood, both real and imaginary, and that he has a unique enough mind and imagination to make death and slaughter an enjoyable experience for all.


Sample Cavern Level

See next page for map of sample cavern level. (CLICK HERE for Keyed Map)

A -- A maze. Should prove a real puzzler for novices.

B -- A room, 30' x 30'. 1: Here is a nasty hiding in a corner, ready to strike. 2: Here is its treasure chest. 3: Behind a secret door is its nuclear submarine. Runs quiet, could be useful.

C -- Corridors, not uncommonly found in caverns.

D -- Drinking fountain.

E -- Eternal Corridor. Character that strolls into this 70' stretch starts walking in place, but thinks he is going down an endless, empty hallway. Same happens if he turns around and tries to return. The rest of his party will see him walking or running in place, take him for insane, and depart.

F -- This room is so abstractly shaped that the MC will be unable to describe it, and therefore cannot be mapped by the players. Good place to confuse and kill characters.

G -- A room maze in which each room will have a different threat to life and limb. No treasure.

H -- Chameleon Lair. 1: Chameleon. Rest of room is filled with old used tires. Great for rubber freaks.

I -- Laser Beam Corridor. Guess what happens to the lucky devil who steps into this quaint passage. Go on, guess.

J & K -- A couple of rooms.

L -- A lake. Contains piranha that enjoy inviting characters to dinner.

M -- Mines, liberally spread about the cavern floor. Loads of laughs.

N -- False Door. Used for hilarious slapstick adventures or for adding to fatalities by cutting off escape routes from wandering nasties.

O -- Oval Office. 1: A Nixson in its lair behind its desk. 2: Hidden insects. 3: Panoramic painting of Washington, D.C. 4: Treasure of tieclips (in desk). Secret doors provide for an early departure straight down.

P -- Forty feet of missing floor. Self-explanatory.

Q -- 40' x 30' with 4 trap doors. 1: A chest with an orange gello waiting inside. 2: A chest which, upon touch, turns any character bright lavender for three turns. Otherwise empty. 3: A live conventional warhead. The secret door in the southwest corner of the room opens ten feet below the surface of the lake, and will flood the room entirely in 2 squabble rounds. The trap doors each fall 200' and end in gigantic Boston cream pies.

R -- Crossword Puzzle. Across - 1: Pick 2: Naked 3: ___ and Fro 4: Go to ___ 5: Us 6: Plural of "level". Down - 1: General ___ Company 2: Cut off 3: One Down. For answers, see page 126.

S -- Secret doors.

SS -- Spiral Staircase. May only be used by spirals.

T -- Traps and Trap Doors. See M for details.

/ -- Doors. Helpful when entering a room, unless it slams and locks behind a character.


Example of a Master of Caverns Moderating a Cavern Expedition

Fourteen players equipped and prepared for fun are assumed to have located a set of stairs leading to the first level beneath the ground.

Master of Caverns = MC; Caller for the Players = CAL.

MC: Steps down to the west.

CAL: We're going down.

MC: 10', 20', 30', 40', 50', 60' -- a 20' x 10' landing, steps down to the south, west, and a smooth slope to the north.

CAL: Continue west.

MC: 10', 20', 30'. Steps end and a 10' wide corridor opens going north and south.

CAL: Go south.

MC: 10', and on the eastern wall is a painting.

CAL: What of?

MC: You can't tell in the gloom.

CAL: Fred's elf character goes in for a closer look.

MC: Within half a foot?

CAL: Yes.

MC (Rolls dice): The painting eats Fred's elf.

FRED: What are my saving throws on that?

MC: At least a seven on one six-sided die.

FRED: Hey!

CAL: Shut up. We ignore the painting and continue south.

MC: 10', 20', door on east side, another directly opposite it.

CAL: Bill's boggie listens at the eastern door, John's half-elf at the western.

MC (Rolls dice): Both doors spring out at a thousand miles an hour and crash together, flattening anything inbetween, like the boggie and the half-elf.

CAL: Mark's human was standing in the way, too.

MARK: Hey!

CAL: Shut up. What are their saving throws?

MC: On the boggie, no more than a two on three six-sided dice.

BILL (Rolls dice): Three. But that's the lowest--

MC: On the half-elf, no less than 40 on three 12-sided dice.

JOHN (Rolls dice): 26. Uh... But isn't 36 the--

MC: On the human, no more than a one on the 5000-sided die.

MARK (Rolls the gigantic die): Four thousand six hundred and eighty-nine. Darn.

CAL: Shut up. We walk around the sprung trap and continue south.

MC: 10', 20', 30' - 10' ahead you see the passage turn west.

CAL: Rick's dwarf scouts ahead.

MC (Rolls dice): Suddenly a spear shoots through his chest and out his back.

RICK: Saving throws!

MC: A zero on one six-sided die.

RICK: Now wait!

CAL: Shut up.

HARRY: I'm drawing my sword in my right hand.

STU: Good idea!

MC: Hang on, sounds like an argument! What alignments are you?

HARRY: Apathetical Nice.

STU: Apathetical Nice.

MC (Rolls dice): You attack each other! Seeing as Harry's elf has greater coordination points, he strikes first.

HARRY: Well...all right. (Rolls dice) Force of 3 with hammer, force of 12 with sword.

MC (Rolls dice): Stu's damage points are fatal.

STU: I have 39 life points!

DENNIS (laughing): Had!

MC: By the way Dennis, has your dwarf been watching Harry's elf kill Stu's?

DENNIS: I guess so.

MC (Rolls dice): Too bad. The orc that killed Rick's dwarf is now around the corner and is smashing in your skull with a very big club.

DENNIS: Damage?!

MC (Rolls dice): Fatal!

CAL: Everyone regroups behind my wizard. My Gonzo Wizard casts an orc-no-more spell. Full force: enough to kill 1001 orcs.

MC (Rolls dice): It backfires. Suddenly from around the corner you hear tramping feet and voices singing, "Oh, we're a thousand orcs. We're coming to beat the crap out of you."

CAL: We take off back to the north.

MC: Seeing as this is running speed, you cannot map. But you do reach the stairs leading east, and the passage continues north. Orc-arrows begin to fall amongst you.

CAL: We continue north.

ED: Not me! My human's getting out of here before it's too late! He takes to the stairs!

MC: Ed, your human reaches the landing when suddenly you see ten trolls up the eastern stairs, ten trolls down the north slope, and twenty trolls down the southern stairs. They surround you.

(Combat Squabble Conducted)
MC: Ed's human is killed and eaten.

CAL: Meanwhile, we were running north.

MC: Oh yes, I hadn't forgotten! You pass several doors until the passage ends in a blank wall.

HARRY: Wait! My elf has nightvision! Why didn't he see the dead end long before?

MC: Magic.

CAL: Search for secret doors.

HARRY: There's no time!

CAL: Shut up.

MC: The 1001 orcs are joined by the remaining thirty-nine trolls from the squabble with Ed's human, and they all rush toward the party.

CAL: We continue to search for secret doors, ignoring orcs and trolls.

HARRY: What!?

MC (Rolls dice): Harry's elf finds a secret door.

HARRY: Oh! Well...(Rolls dice) It opens!

CAL: Everyone inside!

MC: In what order?

CAL: Jeff's human first, then Harry's elf, my wizard, Frank's elf, Joe's dwarf, and Sam's boggie leading the baggage pony.

MC: Jeff's human is sucked up by a purple applesauce. Saving throws: 4-7 on a two-sided die.

JEFF: Oh come on.

CAL: Shut up.

MC: One troll behind you is a wizard who performs a polymorph spell, turns into a supergiant squid, grasps the baggage pony, and pulls it back into its maw with a force of 18. (Rolls dice) Boggie's arm is torn off as well.

SAM: What!? Why!?

MC: You were holding the reins, weren't you?

HARRY: I drop my sword and whip out my can of insect repellent. I attack the applesauce.

CAL: Meanwhile, the rest of us slam the door shut and hold it fast with a safety pin and white paste.

MC (Rolls dice): The paste holds and the applesauce retreats through a crack in the western wall. The room is 20' square, with a door in the opposite wall, and one in the eastern wall. The ceiling is out of sight. In the center of the room stands a large open chest glittering with gold and jewels.

HARRY: Check for traps!

CAL: Shut up. Check for traps.

MC: None on floor, walls, or chest.

HARRY: Great! About time! My elf fills his bag with loot!

MC (Rolls dice): A 50-ton mace drops from the ceiling and smashes the elf's head to fragments. The rest of the party is covered with the bright red elven blood gushing from the neck stump...

HARRY (moaning): Saving throw...

MC: Anything over 11% on the 10% dice.

HARRY: No! No!

CAL: Shut up.

MC (Rolls dice): Meanwhile, Sam's boggie, being a hemophiliac, as well as being unattended, is bleeding to death.

SAM: Damage?

MC (Rolls dice): Fatal.

CAL: My wizard snatches up the gold-filled bags of Harry's elf and stuffs them in his belt.

FRANK & JOE: What about us?

CAL: Shut up. We exit through the northern door.

JOE: But the western door could take us back to the steps, and to safety!

CAL: My wizard performs an avalanche spell on the western wall, closing off the door.

MC: Were your characters within 10' of the western wall?

FRANK & JOE: No! No!

MC: Rats! That was a bit obvious, though.

FRANK: Dammit! We may never escape now!

CAL: Shut up...

The play continues in this fashion until all of the characters have been killed and/or eaten, or, (if by some unlucky chance this should happen), the remaining ones escape the cavern alive. A good MC can slaughter off an army of 500 in one short hour of play, but you may prefer to trap them inside and commit them to slow, but irredeemable torture (MC: Another finger is torn off of Harry's elf as the rack pulls tighter, etc. etc.).


Common Problems Posed to the MC

As referees in long standing, we've heard it all - even those feeble requests to go to the bathroom in the middle of a game which are all cheap ruses to get an MC to stop time, forget that a character is trapped or dying, and continue as if nothing happened. Don't be fooled! Don't be unprepared either: there's a lot of trivia out there that is essential to a good game of C&C. You wouldn't believe how often we have to turn to The People's Almanac just to resolve combat squabble! But here are some mainline suggestions to often-encountered role-playing problems.


"Why do I always have to roll a seven on a six-sided die to survive?"



"This joke isn't funny."

We hear this a lot. There is no set answer to this, but if laughter fails to result from a cunningly-laid joke, there are several back-up plans to make the victim(s) laugh. Some of them are: tickle them; threaten them; use gas; tell a better joke; beat their face in.


"I don't understand this rule."

Whenever a player doesn't understand a rule, it is up to the MC to take advantage of his or her ignorance. Note that it is never important for the MC to understand any rules but his or her own. And remember you heard it here first.

If you do have inquiries over the rules in C&C, address them with a self-addressed stamped envelope to "I don't understand" / 1 Non Existent Road / City, ST 00000, and we'll be more than delighted to confuse you further.


"I worship the ground you stand on, may I go to bed with you?"

This is one all popular referees hear sooner or later: some player or other will be ferociously attracted by your power over life and death itself, and want to ingratiate him/herself into your favor by catering to your other fantasy role-playing whims. Our only recommendation is to wing it. However, if any female humanoids out there are ferociously attracted by our power over life and death itself, etc. etc., you may write to "I worship the ground you stand on" / 1 Non Existent Road / City, ST 00000, and be sure to include a photograph with your resume.


"You haven't mentioned my character for over an hour now. What has happened to it?"

This question can be manifest for several reasons:

  1. The character has been secreted away from the party by a nasty.
  2. The MC doesn't like the player playing the character.
  3. The MC has entirely forgotten about the character.
Whatever the cause, assume the character to be dead or hopelessly lost and disabled, but never tell the player what happened to it. Just darkly hint every once in a while-- even for days after the game is over. You'll be impressed by the change in respect people have for your MC'ing!


[Part 9: The Ending]

[C&C Main Page] [YAMARA Main Page]