Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Jon Peterson's Game Wizards - arrived

This arrived Sunday, during game.

(Amazon.com affiliate link)

I haven't started to read it yet - I'd just started reading a fiction book and I want to finish that before I move on to a non-fiction book. But I'm looking forward to it. I'm pretty sure everyone involved will come off badly, but what the hell. It's better to know more of the facts and something closer to the truth than what I know now. My initial impression from a leaf through it is positive. It's attractive and it's hard to not start reading random bits.

Haul from Sakatha

Here is what the PCs took home from Sakatha's lair (remember 1 sp = $1 in DF Felltower, and gold is $5000 per pound) last session:

Sakatha's gold crown, cut in two ($16,000 worth of gold)

4 gold bracelets worth $1000 each

Girdle of Savage Might

4" Crystal Ball, enchanted with Crystal Ball-15 ($40,000)

23,010 sp ($23,010)

1,361 gp ($27,220)

51 pieces of jewelry (av. $200 each)

100 assorted gemstones (av. $100 each)

6 Javelins of Shock

5 Javelins of Penetration

7 Javelins of Fire

Two scrolls - one turned out to be cursed, inflicting a fungal disease on Gerry . . . it took Remove Curse and Cure Disease to remove it. The other was a charged wizard scroll with Aura-15 (x4)

Iron lamp sealed with magic symbols of sealing.

Dwarven Whetstone

Fine Thrusting Broadsword, Puissance +1, Flaming Weapon ($22,800) (this was Ashers, and Vryce's before that, from Session 8.

- Sakatha was wearing the Girdle of Savage Might. It didn't detect as magical, because its powers aren't from wizardly magic. Or holy, for that matter. They gave it to Bruce after Crogar passed on it because it wasn't something he'd like to wear. So now Bruce has it. Details are in Barbarians, p. 29. One of my players asked if this was from a book, or from me. Both! So now Bruce is even stronger than before.

- Ulf's player also played Desmond, and wanted them to save the crytal ball, so Desmond could learn Crystal Gazing and scry. Uh, no, they chose $16K over that.

- The javelins will probably show up in some Felltower article at some point. Suffice it to say they're one-shot.
- the cursed scroll wasn't resisted. Yeah, not really fair. Just kidding, of course that's fair.

- that was El Murik's whetstone.

- the PCs never found where the non-magical stuff from their dead PCs was stored. It was there, but they never found it.

- That's about $90K in cash or equivalent to cash, plus ~$16K in a salable crystal ball, plus magic items. And the PCs salvaged Sakatha's broken shield and trident and are thinking to pay for a Repair spell so they can sell them for a small (less than $100) profit. Yeah . . . I don't know.

Monday, October 18, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 159, Cold Fens 14 - Sakatha's Lair Do-or-Die (Part IV)

Today was Part IV of the do-or-die raid on Sakatha.

Game Date: 8/31/21-9/2/21

Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (336 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (350 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
Heyden, human knight (308 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (362 points)

We picked up where we left off last time. Sakatha turned and bit Ulf - but Wyatt dove in between and saved him with a Sacrificial Dodge, taking a (very weak, 9-10 damage) bite on the torso.

Wyatt backed out a moment later, and re-sized his Universal Sword to a dagger to make it handier to dangle on his lanyard. Ulf, trapped against the throne, was bitten ineffectively by Sakatha. Crogar slashed him twice on the back for no effect. Gerry aimed an alchemists's fire but Crogar kept stepping in his line of throwing.

Wyatt tried spiking down alchemist's fire, which Crogar dodged and Sakatha stepped out of on his turn.

Wyatt then tried spiking holy water on Sakatha, and succeeded in hitting him and breaking it on his head. It annoyed him but nothing further.

Sakatha kept after Ulf, having determined he was the next weak link. Crogar followed. Wyatt spiked an alchemist's fire on Sakatha's back and broke it, igniting him in flames. Sakatha crisped a little but it didn't slow him down at all. Wyatt re-readied his sword and shifted it back.

Sakatha kept after Ulf, and eventually bit him on the neck, and then spun with him in his jaws. Wyatt tried to knock his crown off with the flat of his sword but found it was on too tight to get flicked off with a sword blow. So he and Crogar decided to just hack it apart. They did so as Sakatha kept biting down on Ulf's neck. The first bite did 9 cutting, but then the next three did 17 cutting each . . . 24 injury. The third such bite took Ulf to -5xHP.

Wyatt split the crown in the back and then Crogar in the front. The crown fell, and Sakatha growled in rage. But it didn't last - Wyatt stabbed him three times in the vitals, hitting twice. That did it for Sakatha, who fell and whisped away to dust within a second or so . . . before Wyatt could pose on the corpse.

Sakatha was defeated, but at great cost - Ulf and Bruce slain. They dragged Bruce out of the fires and dowsed the flames. The took some gold jewelry off of the lizardmen guards, an iron key, some orichalcum armor bits, a big girdle, and a key off of Sakatha, and Sakatha's crystal ball.

They spend a good 20 minutes or so healing people up. They bound up Heyden, healed him, and woke him up. Then Wyatt questioned him to see if he was still charmed. Every time he was even slightly satisfied that he wasn't, Gerry would point out that if he was charmed, he'd play it coy and wait for his moment. So they eventually released him but kept him unarmed from then on. I don't think they gave him his weapons back until much later. Also, they told him he'd helped kill Ulf and didn't tell him what actually happened until much later.

They searched the room and a nearby old lab, finding nothing of value. They eventually found a secret door off of the throne room, but couldn't find a way to pry or force it open. The figured it must open using the switch on the altar back in the entrance room (delver logic). So they sent Wayatt to throw the switches on that altar . . . which caused a poisoned dart to launch into his back. It penetrated his armor and scratched his arm, but thanks to Resist Poison he was fine. Eventually they decided to try some passphrases. They started with, "Hail Sakatha!" and variations. The one that worked, in the end, was "Open for Great Sakatha." (Logically, Sakatha would praise himself but not hail himself.) (Amusingly, they almost tried searching the entire ceiling for extended time to find a switch to release the secret door . . . and then would try the passphrases. Yeah, do the hard, slow thing first, then try the easy, fast thing.)

Past it was a short corridor. Naturally, before even looking, they cask Dark Vision on Wyatt, gathered up the fallen, armed and formed up - confident they wouldn't be back - and headed in. 10 yards later was a blank wall with a secret door. Past that was a 10' corridor with a demon visage on the far wall. Wyatt walked over, but then the floor opened up beneath him. He managed to get onto the slight ledge and not fall 30' onto spikes. They put Levitation on him. After trying touching it with a coin, which did nothing, they searched and found a keyhole and used a key they'd found on Sakatha.

They opened it up and found a treasure room, with coins, jewelry, javelins, etc. all strewn around. It had the appearance of a neat room that had suffered one hell of a temper tantrum. Basically, they stood guard while Wyatt systematically went through the broken shelves and chests and splintered bits of javelins for individual coins. This took a lot of time (which they barely, barely, had enough of.) Eventually, they got it all and loaded it up, passing it back by having Gerry float Wyatt back and forth. But they managed to grab ~100 pounds of coins, 50-odd pieces of jewelry, a broken iron coffer full of gems (they took the whole thing), an iron lamp sealed with magical runes, a magic broadsword (Asher's old loaner from Vryce, it turned out), and 18 javelins (out of 36 originals).

As this went on, Heyden felt a little shudder. Like a tremor. They decided to get out as fast as possible.

So they grabbed their just-packed loot, carried the corpses, and headed out. More tremors came, each a little stronger than the one before. They were very careful to avoid the traps on the way out, as well. They managed to pass the river with levitation, avoided the undead bats that flew around crazily, avoided the trapped steps on the staircase, etc. They used some demon ichor to get past the secret doors and headed out.

They ran past the watery murder nymphs, who were wailing but not attacking or calling. They saw the water level was much higher than before. They ran as more tremors came. They made to the boats, dragged them free, and poled away as fast as possible - one boat with the living, the one with the dead towed behind. In jolts, a few feet at a time, each about twice as fast as the one before, the island itself sank down. They managed to pole free.

They headed home as fast as possible. The trip back was largely uneventful except for the usual bugs, snags, wasps, and so on. Also, bad weather slowed them down.

Two notable encounters - they heard what they decided was the giants investigating the tremors, and nearly back at Ulfhala they saw the dragon circling the island's location.

They hurried to Swampsedge and had their compatriots brought back from the dead.


- The PCs finally defeated Sakatha. What did it? Hard to say exactly. They stopped attacking him for damage until after they doused him with holy water, then set him on fire with alchemist's fire, then he killed Ulf, then broke his crown. So what was it? One of those? All of those? None of those? It's not clear. If they ever had to fight him again, they'd have to decide which one to start with, or somehow make them all happen again.

- Can you Sacrificial Dodge for someone in close combat? Tough call. I ruled that since Sakatha was stepping into close combat to bite, Wyatt could jump in between and take the hit. He did . . . and Sakatha rolled terrible damage - like 9 or 10 on 3d+2. That was the next to last bad damage roll for him. After one more hit at 9, from then on he did 17 damage per bite to Ulf. It finally turned.

- I'm not a big fan of something my players do a lot - observe the effects of things on a 1-second scale. It was Wyatt this session, but it was, paraphrashing, "I have three attacks. I do X, is there any reaction? If so, then I'll do more of that." That's on one person's 1-second turn, and they want to basically take the shot and then observe the fall of the shot and assess the effects before the net shot comes out of the barrel. It's tied to something else people do - move and take free actions before deciding what their Manuever is. It's the old "I step here, I drop my weapon, fast-draw a grenade . . . that worked . . . and I'll All-Out Defend (+2 Dodge.)" Great, but that last bit is first. You can't see if the fast-draw works, and if it fails take a Ready. GURPS is already very generous with free actions, movement, decision speed, ability to assess the entire situation when making a move - you shouldn't also get to decide after you've seen how part of your move goes what the rest of the maneuver will be. The maneuver defines the rest, it doesn't follow from it. And neither does observing the results of your action.

- Sakatha was a load-bearing boss, but with a slow burn that sped up. Luckily for them, the very first tremor they felt impelled them to get the heck out as soon as possible.

- We had a bit of a debriefing with spoilers afterward. The place was collapsed and things destroyed permanently . . . so why not? I'll go into it myself later in the week or perhaps next Sunday.

- That iron lamp? Ulf is convinced it's a genie. No one else is sure, except for Wyatt, who is convinced that opening it is a risky thing that should be done with preperation and care. They're discussing selling it to Black Jans, as well, which has the advantage of not needing to set a price - Black Jans sets prices himself. There was suggestion of paying for sage research to find out what they can about it, but the iron lamp is fairly ordinary (if old) and the symbols on it are generic (but effective) magical symbols of sealing. It's remotely possible someone has a picture of that lamp in a book somewhere, but that won't necessary tell anything about who or what is in it. They'll have to sell it, or open it, next time. Adventure isn't done by email on downtime.

- Even with 100 lbs of gold and silver coins, several magic items, 150-odd gems and pieces of jewelry . . . they carried Sakatha's broken oversized medium shield and trident home to potentially repair and sell. There is Greed and then there are players carrying home broken scrap to potentially get magically fixed up for sale. Yeah, I dunno. This is why I kind of miss AD&D and its stupidly heavy treasure. One barbarian can carry home an entire dragon's hoard, so why not also carry home this rusty old axe you found and try to get it cleaned up to sell for $16? After all, you can afford the weight! It just feels a lot less fantastic when this happens. Fantasy pulp heroes recover and dispose of fortunes and DF PCs sell scrap because waste not, want not.

- Lots of loot today. Sadly, the PCs destroyed a fair bit of treasure in the process of gaining it - wrecking a magical trident, wrecking a crown (which they sold for gold weight, not as jewelry) . . . even so, they took home ~18K each. More than enough for Bruce and Ulf to get resurrected. Which yes, I allow even when you're decapitated, just not when you're at -10xHP. And I require a roll . . . hence the race to get home. Two rolls at a 13 . . and made.

- XP was 5 each. 4 for loot, 1 for exploration. MVP for this session was Ulf for the idea of breaking the crown.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Cold Fens pre-summary

We finished our Cold Fens game today. Session write-up tomorrow, but for now:

- the PCs destroyed Sakatha!

- they took another casualty

- they burned, wet, de-crowned, and stabbed Sakatha

- they grabbed a lot of loot

- and they ran for their lives as the tomb collapsed!

Good times. Full writeup tomorrow, but if your money was on Sakatha, well, sorry. Maybe you won the over-under on PC casualties.

Cold Fens today - Showdown with Sakatha!

We're playing the Cold Fens today. It should be the final showdown with Sakatha. It's win or die, as I see it. My money is on "win" but "die" is a possibility if the PCs are unable to find a good approach to defeating the foe.

I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Free RPG Day Haul 2021

This was my first actual RPG day, as far as I can remember.

They had about twice this, but I only took what I'd actually want to sit and read and potentially use. So I passed up a Twilight Imperium RPG book, a Zombiecide scenario book, some Star Trek stuff, some furry Red Shield looking RPG, etc. But I did get the last of that DCC adventure, lucky me!

And honestly, if there wasn't going to be two Goodman Games products on tap, I'd probably have skipped. I'm glad I didn't.

I checked the website and lo and behold, there was a game store in the same town as a relative of mine. Highlander Games. As I was in the area visiting, I stopped by the game store as well. In case that sounds suspicious, it wasn't - I had chores to do for my relative, and it was just luck that there is a game store nearby and I'd need to be nearby anyway to help out with heavy stuff.

So I went up and took a look. They have a lot of board games, Magic stuff, some minis - a lot of D&D stuff was sold out, including all the monsters, a pity that - and the Goodman Games 5e versions of the early edition stuff. If I didn't own TOEE I'd have been tempted to drop $100 on it, or a bit less on the Barrier Peaks update.

I didn't end up buying anything, but the store employee and I got into a discussion about Twilight Struggle, COIN games, and the upcoming Mr. President. Twilight Struggle was really tempting. Sooooo tempting. But it's hard to find an opponent/playing partner. Maybe, though, I'll go back and get it sometime.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Friday Random Links 10/15/2021

Random links for Friday.

- Everything my players ever told me about playing Dark Sun made it sound extremely overpowered, a bit of a mish-mash (dystopian post-apocalypse, but with all of the usual D&D stuff there so you could run an elf cleric). But I'd accept random crud like that in a video game.

Reading this is making me interested in playing it if and when it goes on deep discount on GOG.

I'd never play it tabletop but as a video game? Sure, why not. I wouldn't want to run a game for ST 24 half-giant fighter/psionicist/druids but I'll play one on my screen.

- Speaking of Boot Hill, here is a Boot Hill character generator complete with combat resolution system!

Boot Hill Character Generator 1st edition

I don't recognize the guns . . . I'll have to see what edition I actually own. Probably a later one.

- LJN AD&D Action Figures

I had some of them, including Melf before he became Peralay, probably because "Melf" is not a great name for an Elf. Any more than Worf is for a Dwarf or Morc is for an Orc, Mindy's alien friend notwithstanding. I know Melf was an actual character name in Gary Gygax's AD&D game. Still not a great name.
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