Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DF Game, Session 2 - Caves of Chaos vs. 250 pointers

Sunday October 16th was our second DF session (for our first, check this recap).

Vryce, human knight
Volos, human wizard
Honus Honusson, human barbarian
Inquisitor Marco, human cleric

Borriz, dwarf knight (player couldn't make it)

This session open up in the keep, in October, with the cold weather just beginning to come in. Inquisitor Marco, delayed on his trip to the keep, made it in to the keep. His mission from the Holy Inquisition of the Church* is to find the shine of evil in the so-called Caves of Chaos and destroy it utterly. Records of where exactly it was located in those caves has been lost.

The group wasted little time in organizing. Inq. Marco checked in with Father Luke at the church, and then found the group. Borriz was laid up with a case of dwarven sprue, so they headed out without him, leaving him the care of Julius the Innkeeper. They had some discussions about how to combat wights. They are very concerned with how to defeat them and put them down. I let Inq. Marco roll Hidden Lore (Undead) and gave him a clue about wights for every point he succeeded by. Seemed a fair way to determine how much he knows about them going in, since he wasn't specifically briefed on them.

The group made the two-day hike out to the caves, and waited until mid-morning to head into a cave. They debated going back into the cave they first entered and re-clearing it and finding new areas, but Inq. Marco (I think) suggested they try a new one since they already knew that cave wasn't the shrine. They picked a nearby cave that was lined with skulls and had a door marked up in the local human language as well as two others they didn't recognize; it said "Come in, we want to eat you!"

The group made semi-short work of the barred door, taking a few bashes at it to break it down. They heard yelling, bashing of weapons on shields, and echoing alarms. They entered and (again thanks to Inq. Marco) set an ambush of sorts by the door. Their Continual Light spell on rocks on strings (why not on the strong itself? Search me.) made hiding impossible but they did stay out of direct line-of-sight to prevent missile fire and force the approaching forces to come close.

Basically they got jumped by nine hobgoblins. They made shortish work of them, although Honus did get a little overconfident and run past an active hobgoblin to slam his buddy. He took a halberd slice in the back for his trouble, but then Vryce killed the bastard with a few sword stabs (he does 1d+7 impale, so this isn't difficult). Vryce got stabbed too, by a hobgoblin with a shortened halberd (maybe the some guy, actually), so it wasn't a clean slaughter. Finally Inq. Marco lit one hanger-back on fire with a nice Sunbolt spell roll. They looted the bodies and then tossed some gear out the door for later.

The group proceeded left, as usual, and found they connected back up with areas they'd hit before. So they reversed their path and searched some new areas. They found a feasthall with some cowering females (armed) and young (unarmed). They merely kept an eye on them while they grabbed some obvious valuables and looked around, then left.

They finally headed in to where they hobgoblins had charged from, and found an empty guardroom and an armoury. They killed four more hobgoblin guards in the armoury and then started to systematically loot the place. During this Inq. Marco found a hidden cache in the floor and flipped up the stone. Honus put on an extra glove and grabbed a purse sitting there. Good thing because a couple of foot-long centipedes bit at him, and one got his glove. He swung it around a few times and bashed it into the wall, then stamped on it when it let go. Squish.

They took some money from the purse, and then Honus found a secret door. They opened that, then another one, and found themselves facing a big pile of hobgoblins (maybe 9-10?) with the hobgoblin chief. Vryce got ready to stab them when the chief said in rough common - "Let's talk!"

Inquisitor Marco told Vryce to answer him. Amusingly, Vryce's player thought for a few seconds, then cocked his dice hand back to roll. Just then Inc. Marco stepped up and spoke to the chief and Vryce's player didn't roll. Heh.

They spoke and the chief questioned them about coming there. "Who send you? Was it orcs? It was orcs!" Marco said they were looking for an evil shrine, and the hobgoblin said he knew it - walking dead, evil men. He'd tell them how to get there if they would leave and not attack the hobgoblins or his goblin "slaves." Inq. Marco agreed - "I won't." The chief told them where there were gnolls and orcs, and two places they could enter the shrine - the front door and a twisty tunnel with a back way in. They said they'd come back and kill them all if he steered them wrong.

They left the way they came, blocked the secret door, and then torched everything in the armoury (using Create Fire) that they couldn't drag or carry with them.

The group forced marched away from the caves as fast as they could, and then headed back to the keep.

On the night before they got back, though, they camped a little too close to the river that borders the swamps. A blown hearing roll meant Honus detected a bunch of yard-long killer frogs only when a couple of them sprang out of the darkness and bit him. This ended up in an Ash-like fight as he bear-hugged the one gnawing on his arm, kicked one, punched the one on his arm, got bit on the foot and then crounched down to punch that one, etc. and then finally shooting one point blank with his massive ST 19 longbow. Another frog knawed on Volos, who nailed with a 4d and then a 6d dehydrate spell, rolling utterly awful damage each time. 10d-10 to barely kill a frog! Heh.

They killed the ones attack them, and then Honus busted out a "3" on his Survival roll to try and prepare one as food. So it turns out Honus is quite the master of roadkill cuisine, and the group had fresh killer frog legs for breakfast.

Now everyone is back at the keep, with a little bit of cash but a metric assload of mail armor, helmets, swords, and so on taken from the hobgoblin armoury. Lucky for them the keep can in fact use a lot of that stuff, so there is a market for it (although not nearly the amount of cash they'd hope for). They may need to barter it for upgraded gear or adventuring stuff or room and board, but they made a nice haul.

All in all a great session. Combat moved along well, the session was well-paced, people stayed in character, and hobgoblins died hard. They also passed up a chance for mindless combat and the good loot(tm) from the hobgoblin chief in return for something more useful - information. They didn't get to try to take his stuff, although they would have succeeded for sure, but had they butchered them they wouldn't have learned where the shrine entrances are.

Amusingly to me the players knew this - they might have gotten hurt in the fight, but Vryce alone probably could have killed them all if he had to barring a great critical hit by one or more of them. But they wanted information and no risk, and it worked out well for them.

Volos's player has been a trooper, too, because my hobgoblins are strongly magic-resistant. So he hasn't successfully nailed one with a spell. But he stood guard, helped search, watched the back, and tossed spells here and there when he thought he had nothing better to do.

Damn, I did forget to assess fatigue costs for fights. Next time. I may assign that job to a player so it gets done.

The players are already planning their next excursion - if Inq. Marco's player can make it, it's the shrine. If not, they'll raid the orcs or gnolls. Nice. Like a mini sandbox.

* I went pseudo-Catholic for my game. No God of War, God of Crops, Goddess of Wanton Sex Practices, etc. Just "God" and plenty of brotherhoods, knighthoods, orders, and so on that worship him. Maybe a splinter religion to the south based on prophets and such. Naturally there is an Inquisition, too.**

** The Inquisition is aimed at destroying demon worshipers, demons, and undead. Cultists and allies of those forces, well, God will know his own when they get there, so there isn't much cause to examine their consciences and see if they'll repent. The Inquisition is quite small, but influential, which explains why a) they sent one priest alone out to the caves and b) why people cooperate with him anyway.


  1. One of the things that I don't much like about the Dungeon Fantasy series is the assumption that characters need to have a fairly high starting point level. To my way of thinking, a "1st level" classic FRP character is more in the range of 75-100 GURPS points (and I'd tend toward the 75 point end of that range). So, of course a 250 point character is going to make mincemeat of the areas in the Caves, which are designed to be a challenge for characters of much lower points value. But, different campaign styles, I suppose.

  2. I like the higher level starting point, personally. And the Caves are a feeling-out point for me and my players, since we haven't done pure dungeon-bashing in a long time. It'll get worse as they head deeper into the valley and higher up on the cavern wall, of course. And I can't say I'm terribly surprised at how thoroughly they trash goblinoid opponents; they are supposed to. They are just learning that the costs of an expedition can easily exceed the loot taken from fodder, so they need to find harder and richer opponents.

    As for lower starting points, you can always check out Eric B Smith's DF on the cheap:

    . . . and I'm working on something that might help fill that gap, too, although that's not it's main aim.

  3. Like I said, different campaign styles. I like to minimize "character backstory by player/referee fiat" in favor of gaming it out (um, in fantasy games and some others - there are setting types which don't work so well for this style), so starting at 75-100 points is about right for my tastes. Other people want to get right to the heavy lifting and leave backstory as a set of design decisions.

    That DF on the cheap article is exactly what I was hoping to find! Thank you (and him) for saving me the effort to redesign the templates (well, I still have to drop them to 75 points to make me really happy, but it's a lot less effort to go from 100 down to 75 than from 250 down - and of course I have the Fantasy templates to look at as well; I was actually thinking on just skipping everything except DF2 and maybe DFs 1 and 4 as being less than useful to me, but now I'll probably go ahead and get them*).

    * Though it is still a damned shame that I am forced to get most of them as PDFs, which I hatehatehate to spend money on, because SJG can't be bothered to sell them as POD products unless the PDFs sell well.

  4. I'm glad I could point out Eric's work to you. When you eventually have the 75 pointers done it would be cool to see them.

    I love the PDFs, personally. Saves me a lot of expenses on shipping, takes less storage, etc. and I mostly use books with "Find . . . " functions instead of reading them through during game or when I write. Books with maps, though, those I want physically. Otherwise, I'm reluctant to buy a physical book if I can't also get it on PDF. :)

  5. Hey, Peter. You mentioned assigning FP costs after the fight. Any thoughts about trying out the short-term fatigue concept from that other mailing list? Might be too perskickety for DF, but since I'm thirsty for any sort of playtest, I thought I'd toss in. :-)

  6. @douglascole: Doug, I think they're a bit too complicated for simple dungeon crawling. I'll try to give them some thought and rough testing, but I don't want to toss them at my half-experience half-new GURPS crowd of DFs.

  7. "* I went pseudo-Catholic for my game. No God of War, God of Crops, Goddess of Wanton Sex Practices, etc. Just 'God' and plenty of brotherhoods, knighthoods, orders, and so on that worship him."

    I learn things about your campaign and GMing style that make me want to play even more with every post I read.


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