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Character portrait from the video game Fall of the Dungeon Guardians

The Oubliettes

(Fall of the Dungeon Guardians adventuring party)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

I’ve found a place to live – I got it the hard way.
A permanent address to give – I got it for always.
Nobody can tear me loose.
They tell me there’s no escape.


Context

The Fall of the Dungeon Guardians is a minor indie video game, published in 2015. It is a first-person-view, grid-based dungeon crawler evoking older classics such as Wizardry or Ultima Underworld. For younger players, the main reference will likely be retro revival The Legend of Grimrock.

The game is developed by just one bloke, so it remains straightforward. But I thought that the start of the story, to justify a dungeon crawler situation, was interesting.


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The usual caveat

As with most blobber RPGs , the Player Characters  aren’t defined at all. Therefore, the material here about the PCs (everything up to the Warden’s death) is completely made up. And yes, there’s a small Ultima joke  since the genre owes so much to this series.

This entry isn’t unlike the profile for the Nguyễn siblings, our sample Avernum adventuring party (which also has a traditional CRPG composition). Or Owen’s Formation Raiders, our sample Might & Magic X: Legacy party.


  • This profile features a sample or customized Player Character. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile has S P O I L E R S about the first level of the game. Nothing too important, really.

Powers & Abilities

As the game starts, the Oubliettes have but a modest amount of training, and zero combat experience. They are rookie corrections officers. Or in other words, minimum wage security guards. They’re not any sort of elite fighter.


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One thing you need to be if you want to stay here

Their survival hinges on two facts :

  1. They’re excellent at working together, in the spirit of Dwarven solidarity.
  2. Though their talents are minor, they superbly complement each other’s. In technical terms, they are a traditional tank /DPS /DPS/healer quartet.

They are pretty good choir singers, too. Which does have a tactical use, as we’ll see.

Their main talent are :

  • Jaana is a heavier, more defensive fighter.
  • Katrina is a more offensive fighter, with minor divine supporting magic.
  • Mariah is a subterranean druid, with minor but useful healing magic.
  • Julia is a witch with a number of curses and other harmful spells.

As they fight their way through the prison, they considerably harden and grow in power and competence.

Songs of faith and devotion, part 1

In-game, the team has a key ability. It can quickly interrupt an enemy ability. Though one specific character does it, the lengthy cooldown applies to the entire roster. Thus, you can’t have two characters doing interrupts, to do these twice as often. So in effect it’s a team ability.

The Fall of the Dungeon Guardians - level 5 screenshot

This is a typical video game element, making boss battles survivable if used right. So it’s critical to the Player Characters’ performance, and needs to be in their DCH writeup.

In-game it is represented by a kick. But that can’t be what it is in-universe. Most bosses are far too big to be interrupted by a kick. And if there was a weak point, you wouldn’t kick it. You’d take an axe to it. As often – video game logic .

So let’s completely make something up.

Songs of faith and devotion, part 2

Let’s assume that magic (spells and spell-like innate abilities) in the setting is performed by sound. The person or creature sings a specific sequence they have mastered, and these few seconds of notes conjure an effect. There could be a pantheon of gods providing the actual magic, each associated with both certain magical effects and certain tempos and vocal ranges.

In this made-up system, major rituals would be handled as various styles of in-church choir singing. In a military context, some units might use loud instruments with a specific sound, such as bagpipes, for battle magic.

Thus, the Oubliettes being the women’s equivalent of a barbershop quartet could be the source of their video game interrupt ability. Counter-spelling could require high vocal ranges “wielded” as close harmony singing styles. And Dwarven women might be known for their high-octave-capable singing voices, and thus their affinity for soprano spells.

Songs of faith and devotion, part 3

Thus, the interrupt might be a close harmony thrilling sound around a F6 note . This second-long, high-frequency sequence is a spellbreaker, working even if the magical effect they counter isn’t a proper spell. But it disrupts the *action* of invoking, not already-cast magic.

Obviously, delivering a F6 (or even backing it as part of a singing quartet) isn’t easy, even for trained Dwarven ladies. This explains the cooldown – they need a bit of rest, breathing and refocusing before they can do it again.

Our game stats assume that it could counter other spells. So they might sing at Doctor Strange to counter his Bolts of Bedevilment. And heh, may it could work once due to surprise.


Video

Here’s the one-minute trailer for the game, to get a visual sense of it.


History (prelude)

Julia od Kraina Głębi left said Dwarfhold as a young adult. Rather than the usual life of backbreaking labour, an uncle could get her a sinecure in Human lands.

The position was with a high-security prison. The complex went 20 levels deep, but only the last one was currently occupied. The other levels were there to deter intrusions.

For instance, the corpses of slaves who had died excavating the facility were left to rot, so they would raise as hostile undead. And baby giant spiders had been brought in to create nests. This formed a deadly, err, gauntlet  – well capable of killing intruders.

The facility’s warden had been recruiting a few Dwarven guards in recent weeks. This seemed reasonable, since the posting was deep underground with few liberties.

Choir blimey !

When Julia arrived, the skeevy-looking warden assigned her to the most junior corrections squad. This, too, sounded reasonable.

However, she was surprised by the rest of the squad, who had arrived over the previous fortnight. All four badges were blonde, short, buxom Dwarven lasses with long hair. The others suspected that the warden was some sort of fetishistic creep, and the arrival of a fourth solidified their suspicions. Two could be a coincidence, but three or four was enemy action.

The situation was awkward if not outright threatening. But the four newbies bonded over bottles of wine. The boss seemed to be a leering authoritarian creep, but the rookies would be much safer if they stuck with each other.

To keep their spirits up whilst they guzzled spirits down, they decided to form a singing quartet called the Oubliettes. Coming from the same general area, they all were trained into a distinctive, regional choral singing style.


History (in-game events)

The rookies were woken up by commotion near their dorm. The Warden said something about a prison riot and needing outside help, then jumped onto the only elevator out. Furiously working the hand crank to rise, he was clearly leaving them behind to die.

Seconds later, the elevator came crushing down, on fire. The burning and screaming Warden disappeared underneath.

Red alert

Though mourning the boss wasn’t on the menu, that left only one way out. And the odds of a few rookies with dingy, lowest-priced-contractor weapons and armour making it through the hostile levels were dismal.

The Fall of the Dungeon Guardians - armoured patrol screenshot

Cautiously scouting, the newbies found no other guards. But all 15 high-value prisoners were gone from their cells. Furthermore, a score of undead slaves had somehow slipped into the 20th level, which was supposed to be sealed against that.

Thankfully, these skeletons were very old. With enough coordination among themselves, the rookies could dispatch these if they were careful.

Something’s off here

Exploring the 20th level led to the discovery of a hidden quarter in the prison. These secret cells were also empty, but were well-stocked with torture equipment. Furthermore, there was a discreet entrance in the Warden’s office leading to this hidden quarter.

Investigating further was impossible though. The Warden’s office was ablaze with an odd magical fire that couldn’t be put out.

As they neared the 19th level, the young guards ran into one of the prisoners. It was Horno, a warrior with a magical power and a really big sword. Somehow, he *did* have said sword on him, as well as his armour and his titular horned helmet. The skeletons who had broken in also seemed to ignore him.

Thankfully, Jaana had heard about his most dangerous power. Thus, the rookies could coordinate among themselves to compensate for it. And so they managed to kill Horno before he could kill them.

But still… something was really wrong. And Horno was the least powerful prisoner in supermax…


Music

Close-harmony women’s singing was mostly making pop music charts in the mid-XXth century. A typical example would be the Andrew Sisters in the US.

 

It is still practiced, of course. Here’s a recent-ish example of British not-quite-amateur-anymore trio the Lounge Kittens. Let’s take a song often covered in close harmony singing (up to and including choir singing) – Toto’s Africa.


Description

The Oubliettes are armed and armoured from random supplies. These were left behind in the sealed levels for suitable monsters (such as the undead) to arm themselves.

Some seem to come from hapless mercenaries who were sent in to test the security without proper information, via the prison’s sole elevator.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

These stats are for the team at an early stage. Level 2 at most. This is both to keep the stats and gear simple, and to conserve the hook of depicting rookettes rather than yet another team of hardened experts.

The equipment has been downplayed, so the Player Characters have more room to find better equipment.


Jaana

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Working stiff
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Rookie corrections officer
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 02 Wealth: 003
Init: 007 HP: 010

Powers:
Stagger: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Stagger requires being able to sing.
  • Stagger is Minor Marginal (but the whole quartet can contribute as per their Dream Team Advantage).
  • Stagger is resisted by INF/SPI, and can *only* hamper Mystical and Mystic-Linked Dice Actions. Everything else is unaffected by the RAPs.
  • Stagger can only be attempted every fourth Phase – there must be at least three Phases without use between attempts.
  • Power Loss: Stagger needs three other singers to contribute, and loses 1 AP for each missing contributor. Each contributor must have at least 4 APs of Artist (Singer) and able to work high up the soprano range.

Skills:
Artist (Singer): 04, Evasion: 03, Weaponry (Melee): 03

Bonuses and Limitations:
Evasion: must wield a shield.

Advantages:
Dream Team (The Oubliettes, rupture condition – being out of wine or food), Familiarity (Underground orientation).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
MPR (Dwarves are short).

Equipment:

  • CRAPPY ARMOUR JACK [BODY 02, Blunting: 01, Damage capacity: 02, Enhance (Unarmed, Piercing, Slashing RV): 01 (cap is 05), Partial Coverage (Jacket), Bonuses & Limitations: Damage Capacity only vs. Piercing, Slashing; Damage Capacity has the Full Recovery Bonus.]
  • Poor truncheon [BODY 02, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Descriptor: Blunt].
  • DINGY SMALL SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 03, EV 02 (03 w/STR), Recommended STR 01, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 1 AP].

Katrina

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Working stiff
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Rookie corrections officer
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 02 Wealth: 003
Init: 007 HP: 010

Skills:
Artist (Singer): 04, Weaponry (Melee): 03

Advantages:
Dream Team (The Oubliettes, rupture condition – being out of wine or food), Familiarity (Underground orientation).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
MPR (Dwarves are short).

Equipment:

  • CRAPPY ARMOUR JACK [BODY 02, Blunting: 01, Damage capacity: 02, Enhance (Unarmed, Piercing, Slashing RV): 01 (cap is 05), Partial Coverage (Jacket), Bonuses & Limitations: Damage Capacity only vs. Piercing, Slashing; Damage Capacity has the Full Recovery Bonus.]
  • Old woodsman’s axe [BODY 02, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 04), Descriptor: Slashing]. This requires both hands, especially for a Dwarf.

Mariah

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Working stiff
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Rookie corrections officer
Inf: 02 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth: 003
Init: 007 HP: 010

Powers:
Damage capacity: 04, Regeneration: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Mystic-Linked, all Powers are Partywide, all Powers are Minimal Marginal.
  • Damage capacity has the Instant Recovery Bonus.
  • Note that Damage capacity can only have 4 APs active, no matter on how many people it gets used (-0).

Skills:
Artist (Singer): 04, Weaponry (Melee): 02, Weaponry (Exotic): 03

Advantages:
Dream Team (The Oubliettes, rupture condition – being out of wine or food), Familiarity (Underground orientation).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
MPR (Dwarves are short).

Equipment:

  • BADLY REINFORCED UNIFORM [BODY 01, Blunting: 01, Damage capacity: 02, Enhance (Cold RV): 01 (cap is 05), Enhance (Unarmed RV): 01 (cap is 04), Limitations: Damage Capacity has No Recovery unless suitable repair facilities and supplies are available, Partial Coverage (Jacket)].
  • Binned fire wand [BODY 01, Flame project: 02].

Julia

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Working stiff
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Rookie corrections officer
Inf: 02 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth: 003
Init: 007 HP: 010

Powers:
Flame project: 03, Mental blast: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Mystic-Linked, all Powers are Minimal Marginal.
  • Flame project has Continuing Damage (like Disintegration does).

Skills:
Artist (Singer): 04, Weaponry (Melee): 02, Weaponry (Exotic): 03

Advantages:
Dream Team (The Oubliettes, rupture condition – being out of wine or food), Familiarity (Underground orientation).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
MPR (Dwarves are short).

Equipment:

  • BADLY REINFORCED UNIFORM [BODY 01, Blunting: 01, Damage capacity: 02, Enhance (Cold RV): 01 (cap is 05), Enhance (Unarmed RV): 01 (cap is 04), Limitations: Damage Capacity has No Recovery unless suitable repair facilities and supplies are available, Partial Coverage (Jacket)].
  • Binned fire wand [BODY 01, Flame project: 02].

I live alone, rent free — there’s nothing to pay here

As the game progresses, the four-person team improves via an equipment treadmill gameplay. They also level up, unlocking talents reminiscent (in talent trees and cooldown-based, hotbar use) of classic World of Warcraft talents.

In DC Heroes RPG terms, their very low power level is offset by preferential Character Advancement pricing. They have to watch their use of spells and counter-spells (which are Marginal) but there’s generally enough to keep advancing. Each “boss” (powerful escaped prisoner) also comes with a solid award of HPs.

The Nguyễn siblings may not be a bad approximation of the party at high levels, since both deliberately follow a formulaic four-man party heroic-fantasy CRPG composition.

The rupture condition is inspired by the addition of wine and food drops to the loot tables, even though (at least when I played) they were only useful for the most reckless playing style.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Inspired by the Fall of the Dungeon Guardians video game.

Helper(s): Coyote’s Own, Darci.

Writeup completed on the 11th of July, 2017.

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