May 26th, 2013
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Dryst, halfling wizard (259 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (251 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (296 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (346 points)
Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (310 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (292 points)
As always, we started out in Stericksburg. My edict before the session was "if you don't have a solid plan for dealing with old business - the fire-men, the druagr, etc. - in 30 minutes, just go find something new." The players who made it today took that to heart, and decided they'd find the way in to the poison-ivy covered mess in the ruins west of the wrecked castle.
First up was upkeep and rumors. Dryst paid a pile of money over to keep himself in Dwarven rations for the month (450 plus rooming), but it paid off in Resistant to Poison +3 for the expedition. Vryce caught a wave of rumors with a good Carousing roll. They heard a few - undead burn when splashed with holy water, the old patriach used to say the road to hell literally ran through the gates of Felltower, a mob of killer apes burst out of the dungeon back in the day (and it's considered odd they'd come from inside tunnels, being known to live in jungles to the south), a rumor about the wizards of far Cashamash, elves and dwarves in the dungeons keeping real evils down deeper, talk of a garrison to be put on top of the mountain to fight orcs, and more. The real kicker was from Raggi, who heard that there are still some die-hard Sterick the Red loyalists in town, but it was unwise to talk about it out loud.
Vryce: "We could ask that noble we met about that."
Dryst: "Yeah, but it would be unwise to ask out loud."
After gathering rumors, Red Raggi, and a shieldbearer (John McShieldy, not his real family name) for Dryst, they decided to whip up some quick-acting anti-poison ivy defoliant. Some excellent rolls against Naturalist and Alchemy by Galen and Dryst, respectively, determined that they did have an idea for something that just might work. It cost 100 sp in materials and some time, but they had two gallons ready to go by expedition time.
They headed up the mountain, across the Silver River via Stone Bridge, past Sterick's Landing and the statue of Sterick the Red, and past the expanding slums and up to the mountain top. Chuck Morris wasn't present, yet, because his player wasn't. But they left him a note saying where they'd go so he could catch up.
Scouting at the top found no orc patrols but evidence they'd been around recently.
Then they found the ruined foundation with the poison ivy on it, splashed down their mix (well, a Create(d) Servant did it). This revealed a narrow (4 1/2' tall, 4' wide) tunnel behind a cracked foundation wall. They headed in, Vryce first, crawling on all fours. The tunnel was tight, but not so tight Raggi couldn't cram his gigantic body in, crawling on his elbows. Vryce couldn't use his sword, really, just passed it along with himself and figured on stabbing with the very end up close if he had to. They crawl a long way, in an exhausting and winding and narrow passage. Finally it T-ed out. The left seemed a little wider, so they took that. It lead to a narrow crack to the right and a Y to the left. The Y smelled to Galen of rot, especially the right fork, so they went all the way right instead. That took some doing - Galen crammed through a very narrow gap and then into a low (4 1/2' tall) but wide (20') room covered with broken bones, bugs, twigs, leaves, dung, gnawed and split bones, and other trash. While Galen was in it and the others climbed through the gap, the last magically created servant (as always, they trail themselves with one) made a "blurt" noise and then disappeared. Gone. They set up in the "lair" but nothing showed up. They looted it.
They found some assorted coins (small change, really), two potions (they'd later ID as an oozing doom grenade and invisibility), a bat-winged ornate greathelm that looked exactly like the kind Erol Otus would draw (and it was magic, too), and more gnawed bits. They headed out the other way, down a narrow passage. It Y-ed out and then went right. There they found a secret door near a bend (a plug of thin stone), and careful examination showed it was gooped up with a poison. Dryst crawled forward and cleared it off with a magically created rag and then tossed it safely aside. As he did, Raggi was attacked at the far end of the narrow tunnel. It was a hairly little man with three toes and three claws and a face full of sharp teeth. Also, a rope-and-handle garrote and a knobbed club. He dueled it with his long knife and managed to fend off its blows and then stab it. It ran. Using its blood, Dryst hit it with Seeker, found it, and then used Trace to get a lock on. This was despite spells up and a Low Mana Zone.
They opened the secret door in front, and Dryst monitored it trying to come around in front of them. So when it arrived, Galen was waiting, crouched with his bow held "gansta" style. He shot it - it jumped back like lightning but not fast enough, and his arrow thudded home. It dropped around the corner. He crawled forward and stabbed it twice more where its heart should be. He realized it was a bugbear, and that bugbear spleen is potentially valuable and magical. He doesn't have Surgery, or whatever else, but he had a knife and a cold heart so he did his own form of surgery on it. It wasn't effective (he ruptured the spleen), but he tried.
They went back to the surface to rest and clean up. Chuck Morris was there, so they gathered him up and went back in.
After this and more crawling, they found the bugbears larder - some gutted goblins, a hobgoblin skull, a dead human (who ended up having a gold tooth and a 2 carat agate), and some rats. They also found a (trapped) way out of the tunnels. They disarmed the primitive trap, opened it up, and found they were in the dungeon proper.
The explored a few rooms, but all they found was trash and trouble - six reeks in the first one spelled doom to Galen's cloack, backpack (and what was in it), and caused them a lot of hassle burning them off. The next room had two more, so they closed it up, and the third had a rigged Oozing Doom grenade which fell on Vryce. They burned it off, too, but not before it caused him some harm.
They worked their way through a bunch of tunnels at this point, finding a few double dead-end Ts, a few empty rooms, and then a set of stairs down a short distance. They took those. They found it was a long corridor that (ultimately) was lined with four nearly-identical suites of rooms and some other rooms on the other side. Long story short, the first one was empty except for old trashed furniture and old trash in general, but they found a secret door in the closet that led to a narrow (5' wide) but tall (8' arched) secret passage. They ultimately found the way into all four suites from this narrow passage, a door out to a hallway they'd been through earlier, and an "empty" room at the end.
The empty bit turned out to be illusion, and under it was a substantial armoury of weaponry. Nothing magical or high quality, and in fact most suffered from decades of neglect. But it was a potentially good haul, so they grabbed some easy to carry stuff and went back to exploring. Amongst the suites they found:
- a few trapped doors (including one using a vial of pink slime, which they recovered and later sold).
- some gnoll footprints in dust.
- a magical fire trap (no non-magical servants were harmed)
- spiders (two giant black widows, that nearly got the jump on Vryce, and at least a dozen big spiders in a web they burned out of hand).
- a clay golem, locked in a room Waiting continuously. It slugged Vryce but he parried and then turned it back into chunks of clay.
- a privy in each suite that Dryst insisted on checking out with Earth Vision.
- no real loot.
They also explored the nearby corridor. They found an iron door, strangely un-rusted and very difficult to crack. It was too solid to break (Chuck Morris's punch didn't dent it at all), too hard to crowbar open (heavy hinges defeated Vryce's strength), and its lock too difficult for Dryst's magic (it wasn't immune, it seemed, but he couldn't catch a break on his roll). They retreated to the room of the burned spiders and rested.
A bell went off nearby after some banging and booted stomping. They stayed quietly in ambush positions, but the bell stopped ringing and the booted steps receded. They waited a good 30+ minutes before heading back out.
They bashed down a heavy wooden door on a nearby room, and inside, on the ceiling, were three bronze spiders. Not content to leave well enough alone, they attacked. The spiders did too, the instant the first arrows left Galen's bow. The spiders jump-slammed the party members, but it all went okay. The shieldbearer was hit in the shield and went down (but wasn't hurt), Raggi shrugged off his, and Chuck Morris bounced his. In a short but furious melee, Raggi was hurt badly but bashed his apart (with some help from Galen's bodkins), Dryst electrocuted one after Vryce damaged it badly, and Chuck Morris jumped over his opponent, landed behind it, and then acrobatically dodged its next attack before smashing it with his light horse cutter. A few more blows and then were in pieces.
They dragged the spiders into the room and searched them (nothing, just scrap) and - as always - used Earth Vision on a privy off the side. This time it paid off, as he spotted some coins and a jar. A servant was dispatched in to get it out as Dryst dug it out. They also had Dryst chuck Complex Illusion on the shattered door, but he rolled an 18. Instead of a nice closed door, his illusion creating a brightly glowing, pulsing, neon-limmed open door. They knew they needed to move fast.
They head down a side passage they'd found, into a chamber that set off - you guessed it - a bell noise. They charged straight through and then up a gentling sloping corridor. At the very top, Galen burst out into a widening hallway with a bend in it and a side passage. That's when a orc ambush was sprung. Even so, the orcs badly blew an initiative roll and neither side was surprised. The orcs - it was 8 orcs (half with bows), an orc shaman, a war boar (probably the same ones as in this session), and a couple of apes with clubs and studded collars. They all charged. Too bad for them. All they managed to do was kill a created servant, have their boar gore Raggi into a berserker rage, and get mown down rapidly by arrows and axe and sword and horse cutter. The orcs weren't slouches, but the PCs really just took them apart in seconds, doing at least HP in damage past armor on every hit. The apes went down in one second, the orcs in a handful of seconds, and the boar in only a few more as it was pounded into burger. It faded a few seconds after - a summoned creature of some kind, surely.
They looted the orcs, then recovered a few choice pieces of armor, and dragged it all back to the surface.
Overall, it turned into a good haul - the neglected and damaged gear they pulled out was fixed with a series of Repair spell rolls (learned thanks to Wild Talent on Dryst), the bat-winged helmet was pretty valuable, and the jar they'd found in the privy was 3 doses worth of strength potion.
A solid trip - shorter in the telling than the doing, but there was a lot of careful movement, careful checking, and careful mapping in there. And some bold and decisive applications of force.
I finally got to use my giant spider minis. I bought them years ago, but since "you are attacked by spiders!" has been a stock answer of mine to all "What happens?" questions, in actual play my players have always run from them if they could. Finally, they couldn't! Yay! The spiders died in less time than it took to paint them.
Can you create a halfling-sized servant with Create Servant? I said yes, at normal cost. So Dryst did, most of the time.
The spell Lockmaster doesn't get penalized for multiple tries. It really should, and we're thinking of having it get them going forward. -1 for each consecutive attempt would do it.
Chuck Morris really does a lot of damage. I keep being surprised by it, but I shouldn't be. After all, he's got a polearm, ST 12, Striking ST 2, and he's a Weapon Master. His DR isn't that high but otherwise he's basically a lightly armored version of the other knights. I guess I'm so used to him just punching things for fun instead of chopping them that his 2d+6 average damage surprises me when it lands every damn turn. What's scary is that he isn't even getting his full damage bonus from skill because he's only got DX+1 in polearm. 4 more points will get him 2d+8, same as Borriz. He doesn't seem to think it's that important, and he's saving for something (Extra Attack, probably, knowing his player.)
I made two wealth-farming rules tonight:
- in the future, characters of more than X points will need to earn more money to earn full XP. Probably at 300 they'll need double, 350 triple, 400 quadruple, etc. Maybe more, I haven't decided (it's around 200-250, depending on expeditures, right now). This will encourage stronger PCs to take more risks and go deeper than futz around trying to find just enough loot to make a profit.
- if you discover treasure and get it out the same session, it's good for a profitable trip and full XP. If you discover it, leave some behind, and go get it the next session, it doesn't "count." This is to discourage people finding a horde (say, that armoury), and then returning each trip for just enough to make a profit and thus get maximum XP.
Both rules were unanimously approved of. We'll see how they work.
Fun session today. They usually are, but I was happy they had a few fights (four? five? depends on how you count a few), found a lot of new stuff, exploded some new areas, and didn't dilly-dally. It was a nonstop roll today.