Monday, June 15, 2015

DF Game Session 64, Cold Fens 6 - the Endless Feast

June 14th, 2015

Weather: Varied (mix of clear and some rain)

Characters (approximate net point total)

Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (279 points)
     Koric, human guard (~70 points)
     Orrie, human guard (~70 points)
Bjorn Felmanson, human barbarian (264 points)
Dave, human knight (252 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (265 points)
Rahtnar the Vegan, dwarven martial artist (270 points)

In Swampsedge:
El Murik, dwarven cleric (269 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Hannibal the Flammable, human wizard (264 points)

We started in Swampsedge, gathering rumors and taking stock of their goods. Bjorn, flush with cash, spent extra on his stay on town for a bonus to his rolls. It helped, but even so, no potions were available and only 2 paut - Gerry snapped both of those up. This lack of potions would influence their later decisions. El Murik wasn't able to make it, so the group had very little healing magic, no backup for Asher (not that El has Turning), and not a lot of firepower.

They headed off, but decided to check out Old Crazy William's hut one more time. They did, and took the time to search it thoroughly. In his home-made firepit and stone vent, they found a loose stone concealing some treasures. He had a bag with 45 silver pieces, a large gold coin with an image of a crowned lizard man on one side and a trident wrapped with a snake on the other, and a wooden holy symbol with the same trident-and-snake symbol. They had been there for a long time (as in, not a new hiding spot.) It was pretty well concealed but Gerry and Asher were especially observant that day.

The group headed out into the swamp.

A couple of critical successes on Boating rolls and some excellent Survival rolls kept them moving along, although they were balanced with a failure. The encounters were light, too - just some annoying insects, and nothing lethal.

Once they reached the island, they proceeded in their normal way, running along the edge past the murder nymph's easy reach and dropping a copper coin into the slot to open the trap door. They headed down, moved the drum aside (for next time, to avoid noise), and made a straight line to the chapel. They took some unholy water, did the door trick, and went down the stairs to the cavern, carefully avoiding the trapped stair. (Joking there is a Flaming Undead Mimic waiting in the pit below, now.) They pulled into the safe mound they'd found, and waited as Gerry put Affect Spirits on everyone's weapons.

Once down, they decided to check along the wall to see if the acid they'd encountered was a stream under the "river." They sent Rahtnar to poke along with a 10' pole. They found out for sure it reached the other side without any acid. They tried near the boat, but yes, a short distance out was acid.

Eventually they crossed along the left wall, and came out near the wight mounds. The wights, no surprise, quietly surrounded them (it's dark past the perimeter, even with light stones, and wights are seriously quiet and stealthy.) They formed a defensive circle and let the wights rush up and engage them.

 photo session-64_swampsedge-cold-fens-ep-6_pic-1_wights sm_zpsubsg0irt.jpg

The PCs quickly put Great Haste on Rahtnar and then Dave, had Asher turn undead to keep the undead back, and waited for them to move up.

With their weapons able to injure the wights, and then with Asher turning, the fight quickly went the PC's way. Dave got in some trouble when he fumbled his morningstar and then dove prone (!) to avoid a wight's grasping claws, and especially after a critically failed Blur gave people +2 to hit him instead of -2. He got slashed and took a lot of cutting damage to the face and was badly drained of fatigue points, but didn't drop or get paralyzed. Rahtnar carved down a few, with help from a Potion of Strength he'd downed (and rolled a 6 on.) The wights pressed, but the PCs were cautious and lucky - Asher was able to shrug off some spell the skull-topped staff wielding wight kept casting on him. The wights lost a few to weapon blows and then began to run away.

With the wights running, Rahtnar pursued and slammed one. He didn't do any damage, but even through his shield get got the chill of the wight's touch. Bjorn chucked a vial of holy water at one but missed. The wights easily outdistanced everyone and moved out into the darkness.

The PCs started to gather up the wight corpses to burn them, and did, piling them up and dumping first an alchemist's fire on them and then two more flasks of oil until they'd reduced them past revivification. Tired and cornered, they decided they'd cross the river and go into the safe zone.

 photo session-64_swampsedge-cold-fens-ep-6_pic-2_bonfire sm_zpsatrswfsk.jpg

This is presumably before the bonfire starts, since it's got to be a bad idea to stand within 3 feet of burning wight.

Then reality hit in three ways - they realized turning affects things you can see, and the wights could easily hide under the "water" and force the PCs to walk into them blindly (or near enough to blindly), they couldn't rest where they were, and the bats were starting to stir and swarm. Since there were many thousands of undead bats, that turning kept them away wasn't really a solution. They couldn't stay, and they couldn't rest, and Dave was near-exhaustion post wight drain and Great Haste (5 FP cost for the target after it ends!)

Gerry lent some FP to Dave using magic and restored himself with a paut. Then they headed to the big structure. Bats swarmed them, so they clusted around Asher and kept moving, hoping the wights didn't have any Explosive spells. They made it to the building.

It turned out to be a triangular building. They found big double bronze doors that reached at least to the 9' feet above they had driven the bats back to. The doors had no handled but lots of reliefs of humans being driven back by lizard men, lizard men giving tribute to a giant horned and crowned lizard man, etc. Bjorn said, "Hail Sakatha!" and the doors opened.

They moved inside, carefully, using Asher to keep the bats out.

Inside is a corridor like a T, with a short stem forward and long arms left and right. All end in doors. They rested a little bit, while Asher kept busy putting the eyes out of the giant lizard man king in the pictures. Rest didn't work, though, as they needed to make Will rolls to get any rest. A few managed, but others didn't, and they worried about what would happen if people really failed or failed too often.

They decide to go straight after consulting with Dave. They advance, Rahtnar and Bjorn in the lead, saying, "We go up and check the door for traps."

Good idea, except the floor a few yards back from the door is trapped with a pressure plate. An illusion drops of the wall as 10 spears shoot out, each coated with poison. Rahtnar and Bjorn both dodge and, thanks to that and their shields, only get hit twice each, Bjorn in the chest and left arm, Rahtnar in the face and body. Bjorn is hurt a lot (the spears did 1d+4 impaling) and Rahtnar is not, but both got pierced (Rahtnar's DR is partly Tough Skin).

Both roll against the poison, which is HT-4, and Bjorn made his rolls and Rahtnar didn't. Both started rapidly taking poison damage, with no further rolls (cyclic, but not the wussy end-on-a-success kind). The group slammed into poison control mode. Asher tried first aid to suck the poison out of Bjorn's chest (many jokes ensued), while Rahtnar tried to flush it from himself with Body Control. In the end, after several minutes and lots of First Aid rolls, they managed to get the damage to stop. Both Bjorn and Rahtnar had suffered some real harm, and they used a couple of the precious few minor healing potions they had with them. The spears disappeared, too, after a minute or so, and the illusion reappeared to cover the holes.

Once they finally got past the door, which opened easily to another "Hail Sakatha," they found a triangular throne room with two big tables along either wall. They were set with gold tableware, and the walls had frescoes of full-sized lizard men bearing food. As the PCs moved cautiously in, the doors closed gently behind them and the lizard men stepped out of the painting, food and all. Ten stood in the room and offered them food, welcoming them in the name of Sakatha and saying, "This is the endless feast. Eat as much as you wish. We exist only to serve." When asked about Sakatha, they said he was "Below." Asher's Detect Supernatural Beings told him that was true. All but Asher decided to partake of the food - even Rahtnar, when they offered fruits, since he's vegan and that's part of his Chi power restrictions.

The food was tasty, and some tableware was surreptitiously stolen (and replaced, as was the food, as lizard men came and went from the frescoes.) Bjorn moved to sit in the throne but the lizard men warned him, that is Great Sakatha's place.

They found a big (almost 8' round) trap door in the floor, and opened it up after checking for magic and traps. Below were stairs.

Down they went.

At the bottom was a room with big black stone doors with a basin of unholy water on either side. When Gerry got close, he could hear low sibilant chanting beyond the doors.

They decided they had to strike now, and got ready to open the doors. A flick of unholy water did the trick, of course.

Beyond it was a T-shaped room with an altar. Before it were two ranks of six big lizard men, and behind it were three priestly looking lizard men (one with a shorter staff and a big shield.) They cried, "Kill the unbelievers!"

The PCs decided to hold the doorway, as the lizard men advanced. Dave shot one with his sling but it blocked easiy, and Rahtnar put his axe into the smae one but it deflected away off with his weapon. ("Hey, you can't parry missile wea . . . ah, thrown weapons you can. Nevermind." - Good idea though, doubling up.)

The lizard men formed a wall and relentlessly advanced. Asher checked and sure enough, they were undead. He declared them "Wizard Men," which is what you call wights made out of lizard men.

Rahtnar rushed forward, saying, "Come on, you cowards!" It wasn't clear which cowards he meant - his buddies, hanging back, or the lizard men, advancing slowly. Probably both. Dave readied his melee weapon and shield and moved up, too, as Gerry nailed a lizard man with a Skull Missile and injured it. Or at least seemed to - it rocked back before it kept coming.

Asher turned undead, but they kept coming.

Then the spells started - a greenish, misty cloud of poison gas appeared.

 photo session-64_swampsedge-cold-fens-ep-6_pic-3_wizardmen sm_zpsn0pagi3j.jpg
Advance of the undead lizardmen!

The PCs were forced back from the door. The lizard men kept advancing. The discussion of "let's come back with Hannibal and healing stuff!" got louder, and more poison gas clouds came in.

 photo session-64_swampsedge-cold-fens-ep-6_pic-4_lizardwights sm_zpsb89nzbwu.jpg
They aren't stopping.

The PCs decided to pull back and fight from the trap door, above, and beat a close retreat. They barely closed it before the lizard men rushed up and tried to get through. Bjorn stood on it. Rahtnar did not want to tempt fate by fighting in the feast room, and then more poison gas appeared (it's only -5 for a target you can't see, which is nothing for area spells, really.) They retreated. They made it all the way to the doors, pursued - slowly - by the lizard men.

They opened the doors, got out, and then moved to the wall and river junction. The bats had calmed down a bit. Once they stopped wights, though, Asher turned and then quickly moved into the river and across. The wights hadn't set up for them so they made it across. They went right up, and right out of the dungeon.

They were hurt and tired. They were really hungry, too, they found - the food was tasty but not nourishing. The plates? Gone. Magically created, not actual items.

After that, they made it back to town in record time (a 3 on Boating, IIRC, and a great Survival roll, too.)

Their only loot? The coins they recovered from OCW's hut.


Turns out the scriptures, at least in Asher's copy (which he doesn't have on him), calls for a lot of "Let the shortest amongst us" and "let the tallest amongst us" do dangerous things. "The scriptures say, 'Let the shortest among us check for traps'" and suchlike.

Affect Spirits and weapon size? We decided to use actual item size SM, which means most human-sized polearms are double cost, but the dueling ones are not, and neither are SM+1 axes.

I decided that making you roll Poisons before Body Control seems sort of lame. It's already slow, and hard to do, and heavily penalized (he had to roll an 8!), so does it really matter for DF what the hell the poison is? No. I am not a huge roll-to-make-a-roll kind of guy. Poisons as a complementary skill, though, would make sense - roll and see if you get a bonus or penalty, or just take your chances on your base skill.

Lots of set-pieces in this one - it's an adapted and modified AD&D adventure, and those were heavy on setpieces.

So, spoilers - will that fight get harder next time? Yes. Yes it will. Those three casters and twelve relentlessly advancing undead lizardmen were as easy as that fight would have been. Next time, there will be more firepower (possibly both El Murik and Hannibal), but the enemy will be ready and stronger.

One big problem with Ye Olde Holde The Doorwaye routine, and one reason it failed miserably here, is the same reason why it has failed vs. the PCs - Area spells. It's hard to hold an area when your opponents can blanket it with offensive magic you can only resist, not ignore.

I'm pretty sure Rahtnar ran out in the lead to draw fire and encourage attacks on him instead of area spells on his buddies. That didn't work because the bad guys ignored the teaser and went right for the area attack spells.

What was that poison gas cloud? Custom spell. I have a few, and, no, even guys with Wild Talent can't just pull that spell off. They've got to find out more about it, first. Otherwise, like I said with Death spells, Wild Talent becomes a 21-point buy in to the GM handing over the details of everything, right away, always, when it comes to magic. That's annoying enough that I either rule you can't use it for that, or you can't have it at all, because the "free access" version means a lot of work and logistics even if it was fun . . . which it isn't.

XP was 4. 5, -1 for insufficient loot. I'd have given -1 if they didn't do a lot, but they really did accomplish a lot. Next time is our last session before summer break, so hopefully they can power through to the tough fight without a lot of messing around and we can close that out. MVP was Asher, for turning. "Enjoy it now, while there is undead" was the quote from Rahtnar's player.


  1. Bjorn demands that Asher allow him to see these scriptures that involve getting him (and Rahtnar) nearly killed frequently. Still remains an interesting question if they should have stayed and fought or retreated. I think if there was no poison gas, and if there had been healing potions in Swampsedge, that would have been an easy decision to stay and fight. I think Bjorn needs to talk to that old crone (cougar?) between sessions to better the chances of potions available next time.

    1. She does possess a huge rack . . . of potion components. Bjorn's into that, if I remember correctly.

      I think had Hannibal been there, you guys would have gone for it. We'll see how it goes - sometimes even when you know you need to be bold you also rationally accept that the odds are not good. That easily could have been one of those times.

  2. *They cried, "Kill the believers!"*

    While not technically incorrect, that is not the traditional cry of cultists before they attack the PCs.

    Good on them for thinking outside the box.


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