Monday, March 2, 2015

More notes on yesterday's session

Some more notes on yesterday's session.


So I use these cheap, knock-off lego copies I got for free in a big bag a long time ago. I think they were removed from the market. They're okay, although they don't either go together or come apart as well as actual LEGOs. Still, free and grey and right there for use. They fit together well enough that we can shape any room we want within reason. They're also low, which is handy, because you have free access to figures within tight confines.

They're not bad, but I need to figure out a way to keep them in place on the map. You see, as minis move around, and as players try to just fit their 1" based mini into that partial hex right along the wall, they get moved. Several times yesterday I noticed that the 3 yard wide tunnel that Vryce was getting backed into had expanded to over 4.5 yards wide, just from millimeters of movement each time a mini was shifted and hit another which hit another. Moveable is nice, but that's too moveable, and people make decisions for their guys based on what they think is their room to maneuver and get hosed when I notice the change and shift the walls back from their original spot.

We did also make a big mistake and mark the edge of the Mystic Mist spell with solid blocks - so often minis fell because they partly overlapped the blocks and were unbalanced. Not good. Next time we'll draw it on.

Status Markers

I need to bring chips or rubber bands or something to status-mark minis - it was getting rough at the end to remember which trolls had lost arms. Mostly they stopped to put them back on, but still, it was getting hard to keep track.


How many trolls died? Maybe 3? I'll have to double check my notes, but I think three got permanently wasted. Maybe only two. Others got burned - many got burned - and one of their rust monsters took a stiff booting. But that's relatively minor. Trolls are tough, and now they're also rich.

Speaking of trolls, they see pretty well in the dark and have excellent noses. How did Dryst sneak by?

I figured, he's invisible, they can see their other enemies clearly (or see the mist clearly from outside), and the battlefield was littered with burning troll bits, alchemist's fire, and the smell of blood and death from the PCs. All of that is pretty distracting, and so none of them noticed that a halfling was sneaking out along the ceiling 15' above their heads all of this was going on.

Balm of Regeneration Trick

One idea my players had to deal with Mungo was:

- beat him to -10xHP so he's down.
- dump a Balm of Regeneration on him.
- Balm heals him 2*whatever HP/second at a cost of 1 FP per second.
- Mungo's FP go to zero and he probably drops unconscious, and it's at least 5 minutes before he can get up, and even then he's at 1/2 Move and Dodge until he rests a lot more.

I basically said, no, that won't work. You can't essentially short-circuit someone's Unkillable and very fast Regeneration and all of that fun stuff via a $900 potion and an odd rules effect. Nevermind applying it takes a long action (Salves are handled in my games like Utility elixers). Had they the time to do it, it may have worked, but Mungo was also an unwilling subject for a long action. He and his buddies weren't going to lay around and let people smooth balm on his wounds.


As I noted, the PCs lost everything except for what Dryst has. This includes, just from memory:

Flaming Broadsword (Thrusting Broadsword with Flaming Weapon)
Gram (dragonslaying sword, also equipped with undead slaying tassels)
Silvery Headband (gives mind shielding vs. mind control powers)
Ring of Protection (+1 to resistance rolls)
Gort's Scale Armor (Fortify +3, Lighten 50%, Fine Dwarf-sized)
Vryce's enchanted mail, plate, and giant spider silk armor

Also a bunch of potions of healing, maybe some spell stones, some money, a gold crown (used by Al as a power item), the manacle of friendship from the flooded prison crazies, and I'm sure lots of little stuff I forgot they found and carried. The monsters down deep also have a copy of the map, if that matters.


So how did the XP go?

Per my XP house rules:

Base XP is 5 per delve (not per session we play.)

-1 for PC death (Vryce)
-1 for PC death (Al)
-1 for for PC death (Asher)
-1 for two minor NPCs dying (Keef, Gort)
-2 for insufficient treasure (below zero)
+1 for finding a hidden/special area (the dead bishop)
Total: 5 - 6 + 1 = 0.

They couldn't go negative, so it didn't matter so much that they found the bishop. It'll matter in play, but not in XP bonus terms. Dying and then having your body recovered still costs points - permanent death is punishment enough, but even temporary death represents a session gone wrong in some way.

MVP for session 1 was Keef, MVP for session 2 is probably Dryst although I haven't heard back on that yet. So Dryst will get a positive point - the MVP point never counts for the base total, so even if they'd gone negative on the base calculation it wouldn't stop that point from being handed out.

Honestly, though, they're lucky to not all be dead. Except maybe Dryst - he's pretty hard to stop from escaping without supernatural attack and detection powers. 0 xp is fine.

Did the PCs have a chance?

I don't think they really did. They might have rolled better, and gotten off some critical spells. They might even have noticed Mungo's wrist band earlier (and they don't even know if that's why he's immune to fire or not - it could be one of any number of magical items.) They might have more aggressively assaulted the trolls or more quickly backed off into the mist.

But there were more than two dozen trolls and Mungo. They were backed up against a nasty ghost they could only temporarily discomfort but couldn't slay. So if they could have ensured they got rest (so they'd have the juice to really go after the trolls), the ghost would have come back full power and fought them again. If they couldn't rest but remained stuck, ghost again. And if they busted out, and pressed the trolls, the further out into the dungeon they pushed the more the trolls could have surrounded them.

I say "don't think" because my players have surprised me with their tactics, but this level is unsuited for a small party that's less than half ~400 point PCs. There are staggering rewards down that deep, but the risks assume you aren't more like 275 points, which half of the PCs were. I was surprised they did as well as they did against the ghost - and they'd been warned many times that danger increased dramatically with depth.

Still, you can't fault them for trying.


  1. If you're looking for decent rubber bands, I'd recommend checking the hair care products aisle. For just a couple of bucks you can get a bag of the really small bands used to tie hair in pig-tails. These bands are maybe 1/2-inch diameter (small enough for use on 28mm figs), come in bags with a variety of colors, and are crazy cheap to boot.

  2. Forgot to ask - any idea what the team's plans are? You think they'll back off for a bit, or are they going to be motivated to get back all of that loot? Specifically, it's not clear from here what sort of resources they can draw on to replenish supplies. It looks like they will be gimped for a while until they can rebuild their kitbags.

    One last question: Do you think have Raggi there would have made much difference, or would he have wound up as one more three course troll meal?

    1. Good questions.

      I think the plan is to crack the orcs and be really ready before they go and try to get their lost stuff back. Had they gotten away this session they already planned to not come back to this level for a long while, and that was even assuming they still had their gear.

      Had Raggi been there, I think he'd have been one more corpse. He'd have gone berserk, been hauled down eventually or pasted by Mungo, and that would have been that. No one can afford to raise him, either, at $30,000 for Resurrection.

  3. I don't play enough GURPS to know (only played a few times), but I feel like Raggi might have helped turn the tide. Maybe not...but perhaps he an Vryce could have teamed up on Mungo. The real killer, it seems, is not having an answer for his fire resistance, so maybe not...but it would have helped. Maybe they could have whittled down all of the other trolls.

    1. Like I said to Warren, I think he'd have been trollfood, because he'd eventually go berserk. But he'd have made for a much less troll-friendly outcome.

  4. It seems to me that this group negotiates with dwellers and then regrets it later, almost to the extent of it being a theme. (Not every negotiation ends badly, but quite a few of them do.)

    Cover your six. These things live in a foetid hole rather than a comfy townhouse for good reasons.

    That said, I can't blame them. The time constraints your game puts on delves is a strong incentive to take shortcuts.

    1. They do have a theme of negotiating with the wrong people sometimes. They griped (jokingly) that the trolls had agreed to "stay in their area" in return for the PCs leaving them alone, which is a funny spin on "get out of our area and we'll leave you alone." We did agree that whatever the trolls agreed too, Mungo has 100% veto. "We agreed to leave them alone." "Mungo say we go kill them." "Great plan King Mungo! Let's go kill them!"

      I do love how the time and territory restraints make for all sorts of shortcuts, temporary solutions, and short-term thinking. I think that's why we can have a near TPK like this and everyone leaves laughing about how much worse it could have been. Vryce's player actually started laughing when he missed all three of his Luck-rerolled "Don't get eaten" rolls. He was happy that wasn't quite the end, especially when he beat that six.

  5. I really like that the trolls are tough in your gameworld. In AD&D monsters like ogres and trolls are pretty much just fodder.

    1. That is only true if the DM runs them as such. I've only used D&D trolls twice but both times they were anything but fodder. The more memorable situation was a group of high level heroes (10th) going into a swamp to find a dragon. By swamp I mean shin-high water and chest high grasses. The 4 PCs ran into 6 trolls and the environmental complications really got them. The grasses gave the green-skinned trolls decent camouflage, enabling them to surprise the party by crouching. The water slowed PC movement but the taller trolls were barely bothered by it once they stood up. When a troll was knocked out of the fight it collapsed into the water where it was very hard to apply fire effectively in time to prevent them from getting back up and resuming the fight. The party won but were so badly wounded and had used most of their spells that they decided they had to abandon the idea of finding the dragon's lair and look for a way to catch it when out raiding. Like with Peter's troll encounter the players were rolling poorly but the environmental impact the players hadn't considered made what would be a speed-bump encounter against 6 trolls for most high level parties a serious threat to this one. (The other troll encounter was against a 4th-level party of 8 in a typical dungeon setting that went about as one would expect: tough for their level but not unduly deadly.) Any monster played to their advantages with favorable conditions should be more than fodder. Peter's trolls not only were extra tough the way he built them, but they greatly outnumbered the party, had a giant-sized leader, and used favorable conditions to their advantage: 1) attack the party after it was weakened by the ghost and 2) use size, strength, and numbers to grapple the opponent putting up the greatest resistance. This was an awesome read!

  6. As for the Lego thing, I've been thinking on that. The simplest solution is to draw on the mat with dry erase markers; as long as you wipe it with warm water at the end of the session, it will (almost) always come entirely clean. It depends on the brand, variety and color of the markers you use. Another possibility is using tiles. Tiles can be a pain in the ass, if you have to take time to "assemble" them. But if you can anticipate the kinds of interiors you might encounter, you can have segments (say, a 20 x 30 "room") pre-made, and put a couple of them together if you need a larger area. For caverns, you could have a few pre-made chunks: 30-feet wide, 15-feet wide, 45-feet wide all in lengths of X, Y and Z. If you have enough chunks pre-made, then throwing them down onto the table can't possibly take longer than setting up all the little Lego walls. You can draw on the tiles, marking rough footing or caltrops or something - stuff that won't change. (Doing fire is still better with counters, since it can be extinguished.) If you do some prep ahead of time, using tiles can be quick, simple, flexible and they can't move, get knocked over, etc.. And if you have a fight that goes across two sessions, you don't have to assemble the room again - avoiding my miserable attempt to reconstruct the cavern based on photographs.

    As for rubber bands, have you considered the kind that kids use on their braces? They're usually small - like 0.5" or whatever - so they could slip over a mini's head or upturned arm without getting in the way. I think braces rubber bands also come in colors - teens gotta accessorize - so different colored bands could denote different things: wounded, Commanded, stunned, etc..


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