Sunday, March 3, 2013

DF Game Session 22 - Clash of the Titans

March 3rd, 2013

Characters: (approximate net point total)
Christoph, human scout (255 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (251 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (253 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (286 points)
Vryce, human knight (about 325 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)

Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (310 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (292 points)

Why "Clash of the Titans?" Brilliant turning of bad luck into winning a fight, that's why.

This was also a case where "never flee into new territory" and "clear your six" where ignored, and much fun ensued from it.

Borriz and Honus couldn't make it because their players couldn't, either.

We started out in town, picking up rumors, Dryst missing every. single. roll. to buy magical and/or special gear, and otherwise equipping the group. Potions were bought, money was spent, and a threshold for loot expended nearly hit again.

They quickly decided they didn't have the firepower to deal with 33 druagr (found last time), but they did want to try to deal with the so-called "fire men" they'd heard about before. Their research was sketchy - probably elementals, probably vulnerable to water, and any essence left behind is valuable - but it was all they had. Then they headed out, after hiring two new no-name NPCs - a shieldbearer and a laborer (equipped with twin 5-gallon barrels of water).

This session was hell on doors. The group made it up to the top of the mountain, to the ruins, and headed right for the tower entrance. It was locked. No blast of black energy light when they first got there, but still locked. Hmm . . . they left it open last time. They headed to the well. It wasn't budging, either. A few test pries with the crowbar revealed a bar on the other side (bars in GURPS DF dramatically reduce the chances of forcing a door). So Chuck Morris jumped down and set to work. A couple inches of solid stone? Hah. He concentrated on Power Blow and Breaking Blow, got both, and smashed down with his light horse cutter's metal-shod foot. Bam. Cracks. He did it again - missed Breaking Blow but still got Power Blow (for ST 28, counting Striking ST). More cracks. A third shot shattered the stone and it fell into the room below, along with the bar and one of the brackets holding it.

They dropped down and investigated - the bar was newly installed. And the secret door out of the room was blocked - it was wedged shut with an iron spike on the other side. Brute force solved this, and the group headed out.

They went to the so-called water room and finished opening the small hole in the wall into a big hole and moved through this ("we saved 20 feet.")

Next it was onto the stairs below the tower. They unlocked the hatch, and noted a lot of tracked mud and dirt clearly dropped off booted feet. They vowed to get the guys who kept locking the doors.

The found the twin secret doors to the so-called odd-shaped room. The second secret door - the further one - was spiked shut. It was easy to get the spike out with the crowbar, but again, it was necessary to do so to get through.

In the room they found the stone trap door was covered with a 3' wide, 2' high rock, keeping it shut. They debated about it and then Raggi just say "Oh the hell with this!" and picked it up and put it aside. They pried it open and - to ensure it couldn't be shut behind them - smashed the pivot point (a metal bar shaped into the stone) into oblivion.

(This is where the first mistake was made - not clearing their six. Clearly, hostile and intelligent foes were around on level 1, and would be between them and the surface. All signs pointed to them being in at the moment. But they simply moved on ahead. This would hurt later.)

They made a lot of noise smashing the pivot, attracting some wandering centipedes (I kept saying scorpions, luckily I had centipede cardboard heroes to use). I joked that passing a HT check vs. their venom did "only 5d toxic damage." Dryst's player quipped "Still better than D&D." Heh. Some people really hate "save or die instantly."

They killed the centipedes quickly - the four 1' ones and one 5' sucker. Galen tossed a 1' one in his backpack to save for later, I think to milk for venom.

They then dropped down and went through the "upper" of the two exits from the 'tween levels tunnel. As always, when opened it set off a gonging alarm every 15 seconds or so. They decided to leave it open, which in a way is very clever - if the alarm is always going off, it's not clear when they were in the area. Below the trap door were some giant rat corpses - some rended and torn to pieces, others chopped up cleanly. They moved them aside and came down.

They moved quickly to the area where they saw the flickering flames of the fire men, and searched some rooms they'd briefly dealt with before. One was the one where Krug was discovered, petrified. Nothing of interest was found, but they did find a Create Servant spell made for a great trap springer. One was sent to open doors (at least to see if touching them would spring a trap), and later it was sent to deal with a monster-sized bear trap. It set it off with a foot nudge, only to find it was itself a trap-trigger and ceiling blocks fell on it. Crunch. A second one was summoned (and oddly seemed distracted by the spot where its predecessor had been mashed into non-existence.)

Meanwhile we had another Dryst class line - he threw a Seek Earth spell seeking Silver (or Orichalcum, I can't remember) and got no results. He said "Powerful dark forces are blocking my spells." Yeah, that's it for sure. His ability to deliver those with a straight face is really a great part of the fun of the gaming session.

As they headed closer to the fire-men, they decided on their plan - Vryce would toss a water barrel Donkey Kong-like, and if the fighters couldn't hurt the fire-men Dryst would use Wild Talent to cast Icy Weapon on one's weapon. If they could, he'd use it for Resist Fire and make a few invulnerable to attack. They advanced. As they got within 100', the fire-men (they could see three humanoid-shaped fire creatures) started to throw fireballs at them with remarkable accuracy. Almost immediately they scored hits. Three fireballs a second vs. 100' of travel vs. 3 yards per second for the slowest fighters. That spelled doom - especially as Vryce was singed, Raggi singed, and their magical servant blasted out of existence from fire. They saw a door on the right - virgin territory - and headed there. Vryce took a fireball into his water barrel and it lit up. Galen and Christoph opened up, with little effect - only a couple arrows hit, and they could see no effect, and most of their hits were simply dodged by the nimble fire-men.

(Mistake Two - fleeing into a new area.)

Raggi took the lead and axed the door almost in half in a single blow. A second blow from Chuck Morris's horse cutter and it fell into pieces. They ran in. Inside was a furnished room - stylishly but with cruddy old furniture. They started to look around as the rest of the group ran in. Galen took a fireball in the face and dropped. The laborer NPC bravely turned and, under fire, dumped some water on Galen. Vryce put down his barrel and dragged in Galen. The laborer was hit several times and dropped in flames. As this happened a woman's voice called out from behind a folding screen - "What are you doing in my room?" and a lithe female came out.

Chuck Morris looked, so did Raggi. Chuck failed his roll - and turned to stone. A medusa! Raggi yelled and charged, eyes on the floor. Dryst looked, wondering about all the fuss (good playing by his player, who knew what it was, but his PC didn't) and was petrified. Raggi, eyes closed, swung wildly - and connected, and floor the medusa. Eyes still shut, he groped for the screen and dropped it across the body.

Outside, Christoph stopped shooting, took refuse in a doorway, and covered his head-mounted light sphere. The fire-men stopped shooting at him. His sneaked across to join the group, unmolested.

So now they were stuck - wizard was stone, Chuck was stone (and too heavy even for Vryce and Raggi to carry together). Oh, and their laborer was burned. Some bandaging and healing potions stabilized the bunch of them.

Galen, once mostly healed, felt for the medusa through the screen and stabbed her twenty-four times with his sword "just to be sure." Once the snakes stopped hissing, he moved the screen up inch by inch to her neck, and then sawed off her head. Working with a bag on his head, he slipped a bag over hers and then wrapped it in bloody medusa dress.

A search of the room turned up no loot, but a note that said:

"Trapped! Need Key!


South - no
East - no
South - no
North - ?"

They took the note, the head, and Dryst, and headed out through a side door. They realized the trap door was shut, because the alarm gong had finally stopped.

They basically fled back to trap door, lights out and quietly. But when they arrived, it was closed. They tried to open it, but it was stuck. So they went around to the other one. The corridor that led to that, though, turned out to have something translucent moving in it . . . gelatinous cube? Yes. They shut a hallway door, got ready, and then moved back to the attack. A hail of largely ineffective arrows plus a vial of alchemist's fire drove it away, on fire. They caught up to the remains and used flammable oil to burn the rest to clear the hallway. They then moved to the original trap door down another corridor. They disarmed the bells hanging from it (crude alarms, common on this level), and went up. Vryce went first, then let Christoph squeeze by and up into the first level. This is when the fun started.

Vryce was up and standing in the hole and Christoph near it when enemies charged in from the hallway and the secret door they'd come through earlier. Five men and a woman. Four of the men were pointed-hatted cultists, either with dueling glaives (two) or dual-wielding axes and maces (two). Another one was clearly a wizard, who had a sword and a skull, and the woman was armored with a breastplate and a nasty-looking axe. They attacked immediately, led by a precision throw of a skull by the wizard. A natural 3 meant a max-damage hit on Christoph, and he was blown instantly unconscious and Vryce mildly wounded. They charged. For a second, they had Vryce surrounded but couldn't capitalize - he's too damn good and too heavily armored. But they managed to drive him back through sheer threat of back attacks. Raggi popped up, as Galen crouched in the tunnel under the room. Raggi was attacked. Vryce defended him briefly, but couldn't keep it up as he was being flanked himself. The axe-wielding woman swung rapidly, and it was clear she was some kind of expert. The others were no slouches, largely ignoring Vryce's extremely skilled Feints. He even dropped his sword on a critical failure on a parry, and had to fast-draw his spare. Still, Vryce put one down with a heavy torso hit, and badly hurt another one with another hard hit.

It went good, then bad. Raggi got stabbed in the face, but for only a scratch. He got pissed and retaliated with an All-Out Attack (Strong) from his lower-than-floor position, and rolled a 3. Max damage, which was 3d+11 = 29 cut, to a leg. He lopped that one off, hit the next one, and crippled it. The glaive-wielder who stabbed him went down. But his partner dinged a mace harmlessly off of Raggi's helmet and buried his axe in Raggi's face. He dropped unconscious (but not terribly wounded - Raggi is built like a tank). With no help on his side, Vryce was pushed back further and further and down a side corridor. His right arm was crippled and he had to drop his sword and try to quaff potions while dodging attacks that rained down. He did for a while but was driven further in.

Galen, meanwhile, decided to go for broke. He dragged out the medusa head! An extremely lucky roll helped - I gave him 2d seconds to get it out, and he rolled a 2 and a 1. Three seconds to shake it free, eyes shut, and hold it out of the trap door opening. He did, yelling as loud as he could to attract attention. He held it there, then peaked himself, not looking up at the head. He saw two stone statues - the wizard and one of the glaive-wielders. He yelled as he heard the sounds of Vryce hitting the floor (at -61 HP or so, finally unconscious). Vryce's earstwhile slayers took a final shot at him, then ran around to finish the group. Oops. Two disastrously bad HT rolls later, they were stone.

We ended there, more or less, as potions were forced into Raggi, then Christoph, then Vryce. They ran to the surface and back to town, dragging Dryst's statue with them. Oh, and the loot from the un-petrified corpses of the two slain guys. Not that there was much . . . the plan seems to be to sell the medusa's head to Black Jans as soon as they can.

Still in the dungeon - Chuck Morris, petrified.

Still petrified - Dryst.

Loot - as yet unknown, hopefully enough to pay to un-Petrify Dryst.


Not abject failure, but well into "we are sure bad at this" territory. But people seemed to really have a good time.

Medusa in my game are "you see it" not "it sees you." Ouch. But yes, fight won by waving around a medusa head!

A quick Google search told use the density of granite is about 2.7 and one player said flesh is 1. So we just multiplied weight by 2.7. So Chuck Morris at 275 weighs close to 750 as a statue. Dryst around 250, with his gear.

I had a real apartment emergency during the game, so I needed to field calls from my wife and my landlady's handyman during the final fight. I only realized as I drove home how smoothly my players handled making sure I was on track for the next action and did all of the post-fight bookkeeping. Thanks guys! Everything worked out well at home, too, but it wasn't fun to GM a complex and lethal fight while trying to finish quickly to go home and deal with real-world issues.

It's amusing how fun the game is when you barely survive due to awesome luck.


  1. The interesting thing to me about this play report, other than its (considerable) magnitude, is how important the proximity of encounters is to deadliness. We skated really close to a TPK in Nate Joy's game, largely because we made so much noise in two different circumstances that all the monsters in the freakin' location made a beeline for us. Your guys seem to have better control than this, but got themselves in trouble fleeing into unknown areas. We seem to yell loud enough to bring all the unknowns to us. After that, it's just looting and traps. :-)

    1. It's partly because a lot of the critters in my dungeon are like residents in a high-crime region. You don't run to the sound of the gunfire. Some do - especially the hungry and unintelligent. The intelligent types set up for defense, hide, and/or scout around to see what's going on. But they don't charge to combat. But as they get deeper, this may change . . .

      And that near-TPK happened because they really, really made a lot of noise, and left a clear path of destruction. They didn't really consider that the people who locked the doors and tracked in the mud and left traps would, therefore, be in the area and on guard. If it wasn't for the good fortune of having the medusa head and some bad rolls by the bad guys, they'd been all dead. Their foes had scouted them out, got ready, and aimed for a "returning with wounds and loot" ambush. It almost worked, too.

  2. Amazing!
    I greatly enjoy your game reports, and though I don't play GURPS (I'm more the AD&D/WFRP type) I find them always inspiring.


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