Sunday, May 3, 2015

DF Game Session 62, Cold Fens 4 - Altar, Books, Wights

May 3rd, 2015

Weather: Chilly, clear.

Characters (in the dungeon): (approximate net point total)

Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (270 points)
     Koric, human guard (~70 points)
     Orrie, human guard (~70 points)
Bjorn Felmanson, human barbarian (256 points)
El Murik, dwarven cleric (264 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (257 points)
Hannibal the Flammable, human wizard (259 points)
Rahtnar the Vegan, dwarven martial artist (259 points)

In Swampsedge:
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)

We picked up in Swampsedge. The group gathered some rumors, including a couple more dragon-related ones. They stocked up with what few paut and minor healing potions were available from Old Crone Hazel, and sent off an order for some gear (potion belts and some improved weaponry.)

They went to Old Crazy William's hut, and found him not there - and in fact, he hasn't been there for at least a week according to Bjorn's Tracking roll.

The group headed off, and immediately had some Boating issues (Bjorn blew his roll, which would happen a number of times, usually by 1 point.) The nominally 3-day trip to the temple ended up taking almost 5, and featured a lot of little encounters:

- lots of nuisance bugs, spiders, biting fish, rats bothering them, etc. that wore down some FP.

- a sighting of "root men" - man-shapes of moss and leaf covered man-shaped roots with yellowish "eyes." A good spotting roll saw them far enough off that the group could pole away and avoid a fight.

- another leaping leech encounter. Korric took a leech to the face that he carefully pulled off after two tries, taking 5 damage (4 from blood, one from tearing it off). Hannibal took one to the face, too, which sucked up 4 HP before he managed to grab with a one-die Burning Touch, which burned it and caused it to explode on his face, blinding him with his own blood for a second. Triumph!

- a swarm of vampire bats attacked the group one night. They bit faces and necks and limbs, but Hannibal somehow got off Flaming Armor to defend himself, then put up a Rain of Fire over the area. It drove off the surviving bats, who re-formed into a smaller swarm and flew off the south.

Eventually the PCs got the temple, and headed in.

Hannibal tried to bribe the nymphs with a string of shells, and tried to speak to them. No reply. So they hit on the plan of tying a rope around Rahtnar and sending him in with his magic spear. His first attempt got him grabbed by a nymph after missing his stab, then paralyzed, and he was quickly pulled to safety. The next attempt he had to close with the pool. He still missed with his spear, by the nymph critically hit him and paralyzed him. It dragged him under the water. Bjorn pulled and pulled but couldn't get him free. A quick Stop Paralysis spell from El Murik got Rahtnar struggling again, but he couldn't get free. El Murik tried Command to no avail, which convinced Gerry that Death Vision wasn't going to help, either. Asher and then Hannibal piled onto the rope and kept pulling. Finally, they managed to pull him free despite the 20+ CP it had initially gotten on poor Rahtnar.

They gave up, still being unsure of whether the magic spear would harm the nymphs.

They did the coin trick again, and went down into the dungeon. At the bottom of the stairs, the double doors were blocked off from the other side by something heavy. Or somethings heavy, actually. Over the course of a few hours (!), they managed to use Bjorn plus Rahtnar with Power Blow to force a door open enough to get at the piled casks, cots, chests, barrels, etc. behind the doors. They pushed some over with a halberd and hands, slipped Rahtnar through, and had him pull down the rest. They got the doors open and into the big room.

From here, they explored the complex while mapping carefully. They found a whole lot of empty rooms, with evidence of the bandits - but also of looting. Cots, chests they didn't hack open were empty (often flipped over), the foodstuffs were a bit depleted and going bad, the kitchen hadn't been used recently, and so on. They found evidence of interrupted activities - a dice game and mugs and wine on a table, but no coins or people, for example. But no foes and no loot.

They eventually came across a pair of angled hallways that led into a temple area. They passed through a No (Holy) Sanctity Zone into a Low (Holy) Sanctity Zone. This wiped out their holy Continual Light stones, but they each also had magical ones. The temple - or shrine, anyway (it's small) had:

- a (vaguely magical) demonic statue of a lizardy-humany looking thinner and bipedal demon that looked similar to the one seen everyone else.
- a 8' wide, 3' deep, 4' high block of altar stone, stained with blood - some only a day only, if that.
- a tapestry depicting the same demon(s) as above tormenting and torturing humans.
- two pools of cloudy water on either side of the altar.

There were also two doors out, one on either side.

They did the usual - assumed the statue was a golem and tried to cut its feet off (that didn't work, although they knocked a chunk off), pulled down the tapestry (Bjorn did that), dropped a lightstone in the left pool (just cloudy water, nothing at the bottom), and checked the back wall for secret doors (and found two, but no obvious ways to open them.) When that failed (and a careful check of the altar revealed it wasn't moveable and didn't have a catch for the secret doors), they went through the left door.

Beyond it was a vestment room, with incense in a burner on a table in the middle and seven black robes sewn through with dark purple threading. They decided to take these later (ultimately, there were forgotten in the rush to leave) after they ensured they didn't conceal treasure.

Beyond that room was a heavy ironbound door, which they couldn't open or unlock. They went back and tried the other direction. The door was barred and locked. Apportation on the bar couldn't move it, as it was latched in place. So they put Bjorn to the task and he furiously chopped at it with his axe, reducing the door to chunks in about 1six or seven angry seconds.

That door revealed a hallway with five little cells for ascetic monk-ish types. The hallway ended with a painting of the demon they keep finding in the complex. A secret door was easily found, but again, no trigger.

They went back and to the locked door and had Gerry cast Lockmaster on it. They went in, and found a small library. Lots of scrolls, two books on a table, and a big evil looking tome chained to a stone book stand, sitting open.

Hannibal went right over to read the big evil book - he couldn't, because he doesn't know the Elder Tongue. But he knew enough to know it was written in blood and was pretty damn evil. Also, looking at the book pulled at his mind and he barely was able to resist its pull.

Gerry grabbed one of the books on the table - a book written in the Elder Tongue on the cover but full of prayers written in common inside. They also praised Sakatha and cursed those who didn't worship Sakatha and plead with Sakatha. Gerry took that one. The other was written in Common, in blood, in a messy hand. It was more, similar prayers.

Hannibal started sorting the scrolls. They were mostly prayers, again, all to this Sakatha.

Asher started to rationalize that taking these books as loot was fine, because they weren't the source of evil and he was tasked with finding that. Also, selling them would be fine because they weren't the source of evil. He's a strict constructionist, of the Scalian Order.

They wanted to get that big book out, so they tried to break the chain. They couldn't, it was too thick. So Rahtnar used Power Blow and Breaking Blow to crack a link, and even that took two tries. While he rested Bjorn spent about 10 minutes wrenching it around until he could get the book off trailing a few links. He wouldn't touch the book, though, so Asher did . . . and failed his Will roll. He suddenly realized he needed to take that book with him, and to protect it so that it could be returned and studied carefully. Much would be learned from it, and so he filled his backpack with the 40 pound tome.

In the end they dragged all of the books (well, one book) and scrolls (all on vellum) to the altar room and burned them with Essential Fire.

They decided they needed to do an Exorcism on the temple. El Murik had a net 18, Asher a 17. But Asher had that book, so he and El got into an argument about the book. Asher wouldn't put it down, he wouldn't follow El or Hannibal out of the room (especially past the No Sanctity Zone, where El would have an easier spell casting chance), or anything of the sort. El decided to put Relieve Madness on Asher, but it failed and Asher was chagrined to think they thought he was mad. Whatever. He was fine!

They tried the Exorcism, but after only 30 minutes, the door to the cells opened and in poured those crazed fanatics they'd throat-slitted last time. Still slitted, but clearly animate. They were backed by a red-clad bald guy with a mace and a green-glowing missile in his hand. They charged in and attacked the PCs, who had scattered so they could cover all of the entrances.

 photo session-62_swampsedge-cold-fens-ep-4_pic-1_arrival small_zps4nvq3umt.jpg

The PCs moved in to engage. Asher turned and stabbed one for maximum damage in the vitals, but it didn't seem to bother him.

The guy in the back - a priest - hurled his green ball at El Murik, who hit the dirt to avoid it but still got hit, and took 6 toxic damage. Ouch.

Within seconds, the PCs charged back - Bjorn charging one of the fanatics and chopping at him. But his blows inflicted mere surface gashes. Rahtnar moved to engage, too, and an Invisible Gerry put Great Haste on him as Hannibal put Flaming Armor on himself. But they soon realized they couldn't hurt them. Asher, though, slashed one on the neck and left a nasty cut. A second slash left another nasty cut. They suddenly realized Asher has a magical sword (Puissance +1). Aha!

 photo session-62_swampsedge-cold-fens-ep-4_pic-2_brawl small_zpsihmokgjt.jpg

One closed with El Murik and clawed him, narrowly missing hurting him and narrowly missing paralyzing him. Wights!

Bjorn rushed the priest, intending to flatten him with his shield. But just as he closed in the priest used Command to Stop! and he did. A second later, the priest used Madness (1 second with his Madness-20+) and Born failed to resist, and got Catatonia (it's a 50/50 shot with Extreme.) Oh well.

There was a big melee, as the wights pushed folks back just by closing relentlessly to close combat and following when people backed out. Korric and Orrie tried to poke them away with their polearms, Asher cut away, and Hannibal used fireballs to light a couple on fire and tried (and failed) to give Korric a flaming blade on his polearm.

 photo session-62_swampsedge-cold-fens-ep-4_pic-4_asher small_zpsgm6vxt2e.jpg

Meanwhile Rahtnar kept pounding away nearly uselessly on a wight. He moved close the door where the priest was hiding behind catatonic Bjorn.

The priest tried Madness on Rahtnar, and rolled a 4. Automatic victory over resistance, and he could pick - Catatonia, naturally. Two fighters down.

Gerry put Great Haste on himself and invisibly moved up on the priest. That priest threw another green missile and struck Korric in the back, who'd run into view trying to get away from a wight that almost cornered him. He dropped like a stone. Gerry got revenge, though, by smacking the priest with his staff with AOA (Strong) for a minor wound backed with 21 Deathtouch damage (6d, average damage). He dropped, stunned. He wouldn't recover, though, as Gerry would hit him with another Deathtouch moments later and more staff damage. Hannibal stopped flame jetting and fireballing wights long enough to use Dispel Magic on Bjorn, who immediately decapitated the prone priest in front of him.

 photo session-62_swampsedge-cold-fens-ep-4_pic-5_priest small_zps7qyakhr1.jpg

In the end, they finished the wights off. Two fell due to fire damage from Hannibal, and the others went down to Asher's sword.

They used Essential Fire to burn the wight's corpses into fine ash. They looted the priest of his mail, his ornate mace, and his 1600 sp necklace and two vials of unholy water. They also removed the spells from Rahtnar, too.

They then tried the Exorcism again - and this time, there were no interruptions. But despite that, and an excellent roll by El Murik, they couldn't manage it. It was too powerful, El Murik sensed, and he wasn't even close to removing the taint.

Now what?

They basically used See Secrets to check for stuff they might have missed. In a room they'd decided was the leader's room, they found a secret stash in the wall with a chest. A big one, which made Bjorn happy - he likes big chests. They cleared out from in front of the chest and Gerry used Lockmaster through his staff on it. Good thing - the lock popped and four poisoned darts whiffed out into the room harmlessly. In it they found a dozen 250 sp gems, 50 gp, around 700 sp, and 500 cp. They took it all.

Suddenly, as Asher was helping count coins, El Murik pounced on him with Relieve Madness and freed him of his compulsion with the book. They decided to destroy it. They put it on the floor and Hannibal cast Essential Fire on it. Woosh. Everyone needed to roll Will . . . and Bjorn failed. He lunged for the book, to save it. Rahtnar grabbed him with Judo and slammed him to the floor. Then Gerry, Hannibal, and El Murik piled on top of him (Korric and Orrie being outside in the hallway) and held him down. Asher whacked the book with his sword and Hannibal kept his spell up until the book was ash.

Evil book? Gone.

Taking their loot and the last of the edibles, they headed to the surface and back to the swamp, and then home. It took 5 days to get back (they really need to improve Boating), but they made it.

They realized the place isn't cleared - they still need to destroy the source of evil, and they don't have the tools to exorcise the temple. Protestations that they don't have the tools were not heeded by the church. They must go back and find a way.



Ah, wights. I love the wights I made. They didn't get in many successful blows this time, and armor and good resistance rolls let the PCs shrug them off. But their serious resistance to non-magical and non-fire damage meant the PCs were in danger. Only Asher and Hannibal did any real damage to them - Rahtnar did accumulate a lot of hits on one, but one fireball a little later did more damage than he did combined. Sad, really, but they need magical weapons.

That green missile spell that did toxic damage? Secret Unholy spell. Details not forthcoming any time soon. Heh.

True Faith was an issue - if you don't want to try actively turning, can you just present your holy symbol and keep all undead at bay (1 hex away, anyway) with no roll? Tough call, since I allow strong-willed undead to ignore the compulsion of Turning in exchange for a penalty. Hmm. No one had tried this before. Or now, actually, since I rule that "hang your holy symbol on your shield" is way too munchkinly to allow as being in hand.

We figured out an issue with Flame Jet, which will need to be its own post.

Does Low Sanctity affect Exorcism? I ruled not.

We had the usual "Madness is broken" comments that comes up whenever I use that spell against the PCs. It's good, but I don't think it's broken. It's pretty limited, and mostly useful for evil priests and evil wizards vs. PCs and not a generally or widely effective spell.

Also, they gave the priest's mail to Orrie and bought Korric a hauberk. They need more armor, so, there you go. They also paid them enough wages for the 10-day trip.

MVP was Asher for killing all of those wights. He certainly deserved XP for roleplaying the book issue so well.

I'm assuming at this point next session will be a couple hours of Rahtnar bashing the secret doors into pieces to get through them. Naturally, there is a perfectly easy way to get through them, but if they don't think of one they'll just settled for doing hundreds and hundreds of points of damage one blow at a time.

(I have photos, I'll try to edit them in tomorrow.)


  1. This session sounded like a lot of fun, especially that evil book.

    1. Asher's player really did well going along with it. He was just as reasonably unreasonable as you could hope for!

  2. It's that penalty to the roll that makes Madness so dang effective. -2 doesn't seem like much, but it sure hurts.

    1. It sure does. But I think I mostly hear complaints because PCs get hit with it, but don't use it themselves. It's well-suited to attacking PCs, and not well-suited for dealing with undead (generally Immune to Mind Control), demons (ditto), animals (too dumb), dire animals (ditto), slimes (ditto), etc. So it's great against people and sort-of-people, and it's not foolproof. Great spell for evil wizards and evil clerics, not so great as a PC vs. monster attack. This is why I haven't changed it - it's very effective in a very narrow band, and even then has a lot of downsides most other incapacitating spells do not have.

  3. >It's that penalty to the roll that makes Madness so dang effective.

    This. Every other totally incapacitating spell that I can think of has a straight resistance roll. Most of them either require a touch, have a longer cast time, cost more energy, or require concentration to keep the effect ongoing.

    Seems overpowered to me.

    That said, in the ~10 times (across multiple campaigns) it's ever been used against us, every single time resulted in catatonia. Perhaps if flashbacks came up for us every once in a while we wouldn't be annoyed.

    On a side note, how does flashbacks work in combat? They can be triggered by a stressful situation: Does combat count as a stressful situation for DF characters? If so, would that mean it's checked only once immediately, or would it be checked every second until the spell ends?

  4. "We figured out an issue with Flame Jet, which will need to be its own post."

    Did Flame Jet ever get it's own post? I notice it's not in your list of Revised Spells... I'm working my way through your DF posts one by one (and thus skipping a lot of intermediary posts)...

    1. Thanks. I haven't used base Magic in a campaign yet (my only 4e Fantasy game so far used RPM), so all these spells issues you've uncovered are very useful to read!


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