Monday, July 4, 2016

DF Game Session 77, Felltower 50 - Part II - Crazies, Ghosts, and Big John

June 6th, 2016 (but played on 7/3/2016)

Weather: Warm, intermittent heavy downpours.

Characters (approximate net point total)

Dryst, halfling wizard (399 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (267 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (269 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (135 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (271 points)
Quenton Gale, human druid (267 points)
Vryce, human knight (468 points)

We started up where we left off, with the PCs launching an attack on the crazies.

At start, the crazies are in the top large cell area, mostly clustered in the left side. The PCs are on the upper right stone dock, with one raft. A rowboat is just out of site on the far side of the upper left stone dock. We clustered the minis together to show who was with who, and relative position.

The PCs had just secured the raft, and the fighters piled in. First in were Mo and Hjalmarr, who moved to the front with their shields. Dryst created a servant with the Boating skill (no one has it), and Brother Ike and Vryce got into the boat.

 photo PCs-vs-crazies_pic-1_on-the-raft small_zpszzdxjwia.jpg

As that happened, crazies over on the other dock started to fire sling stones at the PCs, their light making them pretty easy targets. The first pair of rocks hit, and Hjalmarr blocked one and Mo unwisely ducked the other. It went past him and I rolled to see if it could anyone else in the boat - Ike. I rolled a 9, exactly what was needing for hitting the wrong target. Ike failed to Dodge (honestly, he didn't even see it coming but I gave him one that he failed) and took it to random location 4 - skull. 2d+1 turned up 12 damage, cracking through his leather helm and skull DR like nothing and knocking him out cold. He lay face first in the raft.

(By the way, light - the PCs carry rocks with holes drilled in them with Continual Light on them; the Crazies area is lit by the moderate glow of some phosphorescent slime and they have some Night Vision)

Mo got out his bow to shoot back, Gale readied his blowgun, and the mages started to pile into the raft. Dryst was floating along, and put Walk on Air on Vryce somewhere around now. Vryce chopped the raft's rope and Hasdrubel jumped in, stumbling and planting himself on top of Ike.

They moved towards the other dock, exchanging arrow fire, blowgun darts, and Lightning spells from Dryst (no longer Invisible) and Hasdrubel. Hjalmarr tried to convince them to surrender as he threw spears and then a throwing axe. Mostly the exchange was harmless, except Hasdrubel rarely misses with Lightning and shocked and stunned a few.

Once they reached the other side, Mo jumped out and then the other fighters climbed out (Vryce walked on the air) and moved in. Hasdrubel tried to kill the servant to get a spell penalty off for Dryst - but it took two body checks and he failed, and then just angrily whacked it with his staff.

Inside the cell area, there were two slingers up on the cell rail top to either side, a pack of crazies with the champion in the mid-back of the pack in the center, and four bodyguards standing up blocking almost the entire view of a crouching man - the Warden!

Spears and sling bullets came up but didn't harm anyone.

Mo jumped down 15' and charged (he's got Battle Rage, and lots of natural DR). Vryce ran down the air, and Hjalmarr threw an axe at one of the slingers "up top" as he told them no more needed to die if they'd just lay down their arms. He also said something about giving up their "fake religion," which probably didn't help the aggrieved believers.) His target went down, and he scrounged up a spear he'd shortly throw at another foe (but he'd miss.)

Almost right away, Vryce felt a pain in his brain. Luck-ily, he was able to resist. But shortly after it happened again, and again he barely resisted with Luck. The third time happened a second after that, and he took 3d toxic damage to the brain. Only 8, but this would add up! (The Warden's power predates DF14, so don't look for it there.)

Mo and Vryce melee'd the crazies, quickly taking out a few of them. One with a shiv tried to grapple Vryce, who parried and nearly double-dismembered the guy, taking off his right hand and crippling his left. He killed him the next second just to get the guy out of the way. Hjalmarr climbed down to join them, but blew his climbing roll and fell (best question of the session - "But don't I get a bonus for using one of my hands?" As if Climbing assumes feet-only as the base condition). He'd take a few seconds to get up, face the fray, and run in.

 photo PCs-vs-crazies_pic-2_into-the-fray small_zpsk2xcpsqm.jpg

In that time Mo and Vryce carved up a number of crazies and advanced over the bodies. They mowed down a few more before the Champion rolled up and attacked. Mo clocked him right away with a lucky 4, with his Slayer Training (Morningstar Swing to Skull)! Bang! And then he rolled some awful damage - 9, I think, on 3d+4. The champion had DR 3 from Shirtless Savage, DR 2 from his skull, and Naked Rage and was berserk. That made the damage 9-5=4, x4 injury, /2 for Naked Rage = 8. With 25 HP that didn't even phase him. A better shot might have knocked him out (iffy, but possible.) Thanks to Naked Rage, though, even a max damage hit wouldn't have forced death checks! Berserkers are tough.

Vryce also cut down down some of the flankers and then cut into the champion, but not before he rammed his spear into Mo's chest and whacked him in the face with his mace (aka Inquistor Marco's mace.) Mo took a lot of damage, and then took more the next second as he got whacked with the mace again as the champion yanked out he mace. The champion was Enraged, so he used Committed Attack (Determined) and Dual-Weapon Attack to stack up impressive Deceptive Attacks while still staying in a very high hit chance. Meanwhile, the Warden aka the Boss kept up mind attacks on Vryce from his spot peering between his bodyguards. He never did get a good damage roll, but he consistently hurt Vryce.

Vryce was forced back from the champion from injury, who kept fighting (alternating between Mo and Vryce in his rage) even after Vryce did a max-damage critical and sliced him up. He was too skilled to easily Feint, too, and never let his defenses completely down. His Dodge was solid so they couldn't swamp him.

The brawl continued, with Hjalmarr running up and cutting off a crazy's foot and then carving down another (he loves random hit location). By this point a half-dozen were down and more on the way down. The Boss kept up his mind attacks, and shifted to Dryst as he hovered into view (still visible, not that it mattered to the Warden, who always seemed to sense exactly where Dryst was.) Dryst resisted, and threw a 12 Explosive Lighting from his Wand of Electricity, hitting the lead bodyguard's feet. He shocked all five of them - the Warden, stunning him, the target, stunning and wounding him badly, and the others, stunning two of the three. He also partly friend two feral kids and two women huddling nearby. "Bonus targets!" according to Hasdrubel. He pulled back as the Warden became unstunned and started in on Mo, wounding him with a mind jab. Mo was severely negative at this point, after taking a shiv, getting grappled briefly (and knocking the guy off), and then taking a spear to the face. He shrugged off a number of club hits, thanks to his high DR versus crushing. He even ignored a sling bullet to his exposed back from above.

Meanwhile, back at the boat, Gale was finishing up a spell to freeze the raft to the dock, so it was stable and wouldn't float off. Just then Hasdrubel gave up on watching their back . . . a second, literally, before crazies made their way their and popped out. He didn't notice them until one shot Gale in the back. Gale managed to finish his spell anyway, and Hasdrubel zapped one of the slingers. Over a few seconds they'd exchange fire a couple more times, and Dryst floated back and zapped one, Hasdrubel the other, and once again Gale missed with his blowgun (terrible luck with it, honestly, even with easy shots.)

The brawl below kept going until finally Mo got in another shot to the champion's skull and cracked it, dropping him unconscious and just short of automatic death. Vryce had backed off to drink a potion, and did so, only to get grappled by the crazy slinger who'd jumped down behind him from the cell rail above. He ignored the 6 CP hold (he's ST 20, Wrestling-16, so it's not serious versus him) and reversed his sword and stabbed the guy, nearly killing him outright. As the crazy slumped off he reversed his sword again and ran up into the fray and cut down more crazies.

From there, it was sort of a race. Mo passed out from a brain jab, and fell over the fallen champion just after re-braining him to make sure he stayed down (the excuse for the finishing blow). Vryce ran up, Dryst came hovering up, and Hasdrubel came running up with a spell ready. Vryce took three more mind stabs before he slammed into a bodyguard, shoving him aside. Dryst zapped one with lightning, dropping him to the floor possibly dead. And then Hasdrubel dropped in an Explosive Lightning spell, frying everyone including Vryce - who was unstunned. The Warden, clearly drained to near-exhaustion, was sitting on the floor and his bodyguards were teetering over from the blast. Vryce cut him twice, each blow doing more than enough to put him down. Vryce ignored the shocked and morally stunned bodyguard (the only one conscious) and cut off the Warden's head. Not very Vryce-like, which just goes to show how worried he was by the Warden. He shrugged at the bodyguard, who slumped down, and walked off. Vryce decided that guy would make an excellent new leader.

Then it was just mopping up and healing. A LOT of both.

- Almost immediately they set up guards, used potions to heal Ike and waited for him to wake up, and did first aid.
- With Ike up, he used the staff to heal everyone a little (even the crazies who lived), and then spells and Healing Slumber on Mo to get him on the road to recovery.
- Ditched the bodies to the water. Originally Gale and someone else wanted to shove them down the hole near the dragon, for "reasons," but they went with feeding the fish. They did a few before Vryce demanded Dryst have servants do it, who reluctantly agreed to use his "other servants" instead of the PCs.
- Started to interrogate the crazies.

Their foes turned out to be pretty poor - some coins, a few more of those "friendship manacles" with random coins and bits of precious metals hammered into them, and some sour orcish wine. They appointed one leader - not their first choice, as he finally died of his severe injuries. That left some feral kids, normal kids (they never found out the difference), a half-dozen males including two with missing arms, and eight or so women. They were too shocked to provide much information.

As they spent their time, Hasdrubel went to get the book. He was cautious enough to take precautions, but blew his roll badly (a 17) and accidentally activated the book. Just like that, gone.

He found himself in the dark, and quickly felt his way out of the room and waited. Sure enough, Dryst used Seeker to see where he went, and then he and Vryce got into the cell and used the book. They joined him, regrouped outside, and then worked their way back to the prison level while Invisible with Dark Vision and Walking on Air to maximize stealth. They even hid out from the orcs for a while in the safe room. Finally they made it down, leaving only a little evidence of their passing (not being able to bar the door.) Oh, and they used a preschool looped rope made with Create Object to stay close. Heh.

Dryst made a servant and gave it a wrapping cloth and sent it in to wrap the book. It managed - it's not light, at 24 pounds - but it got it in. They didn't go near the book or the pedestal again, just kept it wrapped and put it in Hjalmarr's bag.

In the end they rested eight hours, used Seek Earth to find gold and silver (they got some hints), and then headed off to Big John.

They rowed to about 20' from him and called to him. He came out, a slightly graying but otherwise normal looking troll. He was willing to talk for the wine.

- Any problems with the Crazies? No, they used to try and kill him decades back but he killed a few and they found they couldn't kill him and gave up.

- Mungo? Yes, the big troll. Big, stupid, greedy, hungry. Big John doesn't like him or other trolls. You get to him by swimming the old river. Big John came here to get away from them.

- The orcs sometimes bribe him. The crazies used to, but that seems like it'll stop.

- Some surface dwellers came with treasure to stash but Big John didn't see them go.

- All he wants is people to leave him alone.

- Surface dwellers kill you for your money, and Big John implied he doesn't have anything at all so as to avoid that.

They left him the wine and moved on.

After that, they used Wizard Eye to spy out the two "ghost" areas.

One (on the left facing in from the entrance) there was a bare-chested scarred northerner ghost and in another cell a frost-scorched akimbo humanoid "outline." On the floor. In the other, a hint of two small ghosts, a gemstone sitting on a floor filled with holes, and a ghost of a breathtakingly beautiful elf woman. She smiled at the wizard eye and popped it with a fingernail.

They went to the woman, first. They loaded up with Affect Spirits and tried to investigate the trapped gem, first. They pried open the cell and sent him a servant to pick it up. It did, and as it lifted the gem - which had resisted movement with Apportation - spikes came out of the holes and impaled it. So Hjalmarr was sent in with Levitate, and he tried to pull it up and cut off the stone from a thin chain beneath it. The spikes missed him, but he was surprised by them and startled (Will roll was an 18). That was that for Hajmarr, who picked up a quirk about touching found money and objects that look suspicious. Mo asked for his Ring of Will so he could try, but Hjalmarr refused to pass it along. They did the same trick with Mo, who eventually got the stone free.

Naturally, it was just a fancy-looking chunk of glass. Why this trap in a cell? It wasn't clear. Maybe some bizarre form of torture?

Next was the ghost elf, who watched them. Mo tried to talk to her, and she gave him a smile and waved him into the cell. He tried to get her to come out, so she shrugged and faded. He disarmed (just in case), and Gift of Tongues gave him elven. He pried open the door with Vyrce's help (he failed on his own the first time) and said, "You're free." She smiled and drifted to the door, mouthing "Thank you" silently in Elven, and disappeared as she passed the threshold.

Mo then felt a warm feeling throughout himself, and more confidence and just good. "I feel that way all the time!" Mo didn't realize it until later but he gained some elf woman mojo ("a few mojons - the scientific measure of mojo" - Gale), and has a permanent +1 to reaction rolls and social skill rolls with elf women.

As they moved to leave though, two smaller ghosts appeared in the adjacent cell. Several of the PCs glanced that way and saw them form into child-like disembodied torsos and then swirl into rotting death faces and spin and change and warp constantly. That was the last straw for Hjalmarr, who rolled a 17 on his Will roll. He turned and climbed up the rungs to the way out in record speed. "I'm done here."

They seemed constrained by the bars - odd for ghosts. In seconds, though, they came over the bars as down. One possessed Mo and Vryce destroyed the other one. Possessed Mo grappled Vryce, who broke free and then hit him with the flat of his sword. Hasdrubel decided to help, and hit Mo with a 12d Lightning spell - "it's a stunning spell, to get rid of the ghost." Hammer here, anything look like a nail? He rolled 31 damage and stunned him, though, and Vryce grappled him and pinned him in a few seconds (a Stunned ST 17 and Wrestling-14 or so vs. Vryce's superior ST and Wrestling.) The ghost escaped out of Mo. Vryce warded it off with the help of Boost Will from Dryst, and Mo punched it - Affect Spirits was on him. It turned and he had to ward off possession until Vryce sliced it apart from his position kneeling on Mo.

Next up, the other ghost. The frost-limmed area was cold, according to a servant, and they left it alone. The ghost himself attacked them when they came close, paralyzing Mo with a pointed finger, failing on Vryce, failing on Dryst, and then falling back as Vryce lunged through and stabbed him. Vryce ran up the air and down and attacked, killing the ghost after barely avoiding paralysis thanks to Luck. The ghost faded, cursing them and "Your Baron Sterick!" "Hey, we don't even like the guy!"

They checked for treasure, found none, cast a few more Seek Earth spells for silver and gold and turned up nothing nearby except some silver in the champion's living area.

They headed there and found four women, four kids, and some weaponry. The women, though, wore silver necklaces with six-fingered hand amulets on them. Snap, snap, snap, snap, they took them. Mo gave them his spare rations "in trade."

They stashed a rowboat in the secret door room they found last time, after deciding that trying to scan and dredge for Inquistor Marco's armor or lost loot from the hobgoblins was probably not worth the time and effort. Oh, and deciding that sneaking down to steal some of the dragon's treasure was completely stupid.

They met back up with the orcs and handed over a dozen spears and a bodyguard's cheesy manacle. They originally thought about handing over an amulet, but they decided the orcs liked the six-fingered guys a bit too much and wanted their stuff a bit too much, so it was a bad idea to give it to them. A 4 on Diplomacy did it, though, and the orcs accepted. They climbed up and Hasdrubel made small talk, mentioned they'd kicked some crazy guy's butts. The orcs were impressed they killed so many of the "white men" and said next time Hasdrubel comes, only half fee (500 sp, not 1000 sp).

They went back to the surface.

All in all, they took home about 800 or so each, with 1000 for Vryce (who needs a higher limit to even get half XP for loot).


Good session today. Very focused, and lots of loose ends tied up.

You can see some of the player's map above. Here is the Flooded Prison "master" map. That is, outlines online, no key. They've gone over this area multiple times, with See Secrets and magic and so on, and no surprise, aside from the one "escape hatch" there isn't any other way off of this sub-level. Not to say they've found everything or that there aren't attachments I added later on the next generation of map, just that they've mapped basically exactly this with some minor errors so I may as well show it. Enjoy it, because this isn't going happen again soon.

 photo Flooded Prison PC Map_zpsab5xcj5w.jpg

I think the PCs underestimated the Crazies. They referred to them as fodder going in (on the fodder/worthy/boss scale, they were each worthy with two borderline boss-level foes). They felt that Vryce was holding back last time they met, and still won, so if he stopped pulling back he'd just walk over the champion. The boss was their only concern. Yet there was enough concern to keep the three casters back and out of the fray until necessary. That combo meant the fighter-types took the brunt of some nasty foes and had to grind down the champion while the boss used his powers unopposed for a precious but painful period of time. Not really trying to editorialize here or Monday-morning quarterback them - they realized all of this by the end of the session. They just held back instead of leading with their most potent attacks. I know they realized later if they'd just opened up with a mix of Explosive Lightning and Pollen Cloud and Alchemist's Fire right away, they could have turned the fight in their favor immediately. Overconfidence (the player trait) strikes again! Open with the trek grenade, that's my attitude.

Originally I gave the boss a mind attack based on Mengar's Mind Jab. Non-magic, but not exactly Psi, either. It's in the middle ground like a lot of pre-DF14 "mind" power creatures.

The Crazies had pretty good morale as long as the boss and the champion were up - mostly the champion. They made all of the rolls easily, especially since they got a bonus to staying in the fight thanks to fighting religious foes. Once they cracked, though, they literally had no fight left. It just took almost 90% casualties before they got there.

Hjalmarr wanted to Sacrificial Block for Ike, but only thought of it after I'd started into damage. In any case, I'd have said no. He was to the upper left of Ike, and the rolls had already determined it hit Mo and Mo defended . . . the only way he could have stuck his shield into the path of the rock was before it reached Mo, no between Mo and Ike to his back right.

Never doubt that Naked Rage (Barbarians, p. 21) is worth 35 points. Half injury is huge. The champion would have been dead several times over, but instead just took moderate wounds from crushing head blows and even a maximum-damage sword cut. DR is nice, HP are great, but half injury is amazing.

We've had so many dead clerics by now that people conflate their spells. "Brother Ike can cast Relieve Paralysis." "No, he can't." "Sure he can!" We check, and no, he can't. That may have been Al Murik, or El Murik, or Father Hans, or Inquisitor Marco, or Father Keef, all of whom died in play.

I've got a "conditional bonuses" rant coming on. I'll post it tomorrow. It's mostly occasioned by a AOA-related 3ism I held over on purpose and Fit.

The ghosts are out of DF9, modified so they aren't essentially non-threats. I like that book, but the power level is a bit low for DF - probably because they're meant as allies you can build up, not foes. I need them as foes.

What is that Mojo? Basically Charisma +1, -80% for "elf women only." Because I can't see that being worth more than 1 point. There aren't a lot of elves in my game, fewer elf women still, and it's only a +1. I could also have made it a perk, and I might - Elf Babe Mojo or something like that. It fits Mo's character. And yes, it's a conditional benefit, but it's a very clear and small category - so edge cases. "Elf but not woman" or "Woman but not elf" or "Half-elf" aren't covered, because "Elf Woman" is really specific and memorable.

XP were 6 for the two sessions (4 loot, 1 exploration, 1 clean run) and 4 for Vryce (only 2 for loot). Not bad, although as we'd noted before, this was on average the same as two so-so delves, so it's not really worth it to stay longer unless you have to.

MVP for the session was Mo, for felling the champion and for seducing a ghost. Also, he brought a fan to the game session and the A/C wasn't working where we play. It was mostly that last bit.


  1. This was a fun session despite me being against what we did. Mo did call for people to get on the raft to leave, but once we were attacked his rage kicked in. It was a fun fight, but we need to decide whether we're orc allies or not. I say we use the half price for passage to solve the deadly rune maze and then decide whether we can or want to attack the orcs from inside. A massive earthquake or sealing their tunnel with stone, to keep them from replenishing their numbers, would make taking over the top levels possible. They may always be there but if we let them get any more powerful we'll have bigger problems than paying tolls.

  2. OF COURSE Hjalmarr rolls a 17 and 18 on his Will rolls (and I didn't even roll them myself). Too bad that's not a Ring of Will +10 (although he would have still failed both).

    1. I should retcon it to be a Ring of Infinite Will. That way it'll be funnier still when you auto-fail. Have you made any Will rolls since you put it on?

    2. Only will-based Immovable Stance. I'm 2 for 2 on that, maybe 3 for 3.

  3. I wonder how long before they will go back to the caves below. Perhaps another year at this rate.

    1. I'm not sure. The caves are pretty deep, and they haven't even found a way down yet. They keep hearing rumors about one but haven't identified it, and haven't fully explored lots of the "tag end" areas on their maps. As you can see from Tom's reply, above, the orcs are really driving their decisions.

  4. Thanks for posting an example of one of your maps. It's nice to see that your mapping is really traditional. The game results you get are fantastic, and it shows the rest of us that we are on the right track, that even with lo-fi maps like yours, one can get outstanding results at the table.

    1. You're welcome. I'm very proud of this one - a flooded prison, with logical features yet still fantastical ones.

      I'm glad you like the results, too! It's been a fun game for the most part, and you really don't need a lot behind the GM screen to have a lot happen in front of it.

  5. Is Dryst going to need extra loot now also?

    1. As soon as he spends 1 point to get to 400, yes.

    2. Interesting, making staying at a particular point threshold a meta game strategy.

  6. I don't see how to edit my comment, I may just be blind

    I also wanted to ask - how much is Vryce hurting from whatever gear he lost when Mungo and the Rust Monsters got him?

    1. He seems to be doing okay. Less DR overall, since his preferred armor loadout (enchanted light plate over enchanted spidersilk armor) is very expensive. But otherwise, he had enough cash to start over pretty well equipped.

  7. I love your blog! I've been able to add a lot to my own games and up my GMing. Will you post Vryce's character sheet ? He's like the Daryl Dixon of DF.


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