Delving into Von Bottom

They didn't have to go too deep for gold

At the weekend I picked up Kiel Chenier‘s Blood in the Chocolate, and having read it now I’m really excited to find an excuse to run it! I had to prep a quick one shot for last night however and BitC is too good to rush into one short session but Keil’s name was on my mind. The Hell House Beckons? Maybe, I thought, but I was after something a bit more light-hearted. Something a bit more … chibi. Von Bottom’s Hoard it was to be.

VBH was (if I recall correctly) the creation of Annah and Reynaldo Madrinan in conjunction with Kiel to get the Madrinan’s to GenCon a year or so back. It’s a quick mansion crawl with a delightful cast of NPCs, the goal being for players to plunder the excessive wealth of Von Bottom who in turn actively encouraged adventurers to come to his mansion so they could be killed off in amusing ways. Before a playthrough the GM rolls to determine what NPCs are in play and where Von Bottom and his hoard are currently residing in the mansion.

Last night, the NPCs in play along side Von Bottom were:

  • Jiivu, the long serving butler of Von Bottom.
  • Kara, the mother hen washer woman.
  • Marie, a mystical seer.
  • Bagu, a luckless court jester.
  • A baby dragon.
  • A fairy in a bottle.

Von Bottom and his gold were in a pavilion in the back garden.

The setup was that the players were actually devout worshipers of the Red Dragon and were interested in bringing vengeance on Von Bottom. They approached the front door where Jiivu coldly informed them that the master wasn’t receiving visitors today. The party didn’t give up there however, making their way round to the chapel and breaking in there. After some excellent rolls they managed to convince the maids in there that they were in fact new staff, and uniforms were fetched.

Tarted up in their new threads, they found their way into the kitchen and were stunned to find a baby red dragon. Combat briefly started as they tried to recuse it before realising this was a bad idea. They managed to stop the fight and save the dragon briefly by convincing the staff it was in fact a female one and could perhaps be used to breed more dragons for consumption. They made their way into the back garden through the kitchen while they tried to figure out their next move, surprised to find a pavilion filled with gold (and a large fat baron, a butler, and a dejected jester).

After Von Bottom indulged the players for a bit with tales of his heroic battle against the great dragon Incinerax, the party cleric had the bright idea of using Command to make the Baron fall down the mountain of gold. A failed roll however so the specialist getting flattened as the baron rolly-polly’d his way down. The Magic User tried to steal the Baron’s blunderbuss and fire it, missing wildly but causing an explosion of gold.

Combat lasted a round before the players each grabbed a handful of gold and escaped, pursued at this point by 8 maids and butlers, and 8 topiary bears. They charged back through another part of the mansion, escaping south through a large drawing room, setting fire to things as they went (though the main Fighter sprung a trap and got a face full of arrows for her troubles). In the confusion, they managed to loop back round to the kitchens, nicking the baby dragon (completely ignoring the poor fairy up on the shelf), and back out. The whole thing became a sort of Benny Hill sketch as they manged to evade a growing number of butlers and maids in pursuit but, save for the specialist taking severe damage for jumping through a stained glass window, they managed to make it out the gardens.

In conclusion, Von Bottom’s Hoard was exactly what I imagined it’d be: a tongue in cheek cute romp with silly characters, a chance to do silly voices, and have ludicrous scenes play out. Would happily run it again if I was pressed for time seeing as prep was minimal. I would however nerf a ton of the stats to make it a more suitable adventure for level 1 LotFP characters (as it stood I blessed the party with an additional 20 HP before we started as a quick hack to boost their survival chances).

The only failing would be that as the session proved it was easy to miss a lot of the more amusing stuff particularly with them finding the hoard so early on. Running the mansion vanilla theres still a ton of amusing things to find and do, and I was also gutted I didn’t get to see them suffer a particularly hilarious trap that would have resulted in the theft of one of the character’s voices. Still, thanks to the different play through possibilities I’ll get to see a different outcome next time!

You can still purchase Von Bottom’s Hoard from Kiel by clicky-clicking here for the low price of $3.99.

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