Monday, February 13, 2012

DF Game, Session 8 - Caves of Chaos, Shrine of Evil part III

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Characters: (net point total)
Vryce, human knight (279 points)
Inquisitor Marco, human cleric (272 points)
Borriz, dwarf knight (273 points)
Nakar, human wizard (264 points)

The player of Honus Honusson couldn't make it, and Red Raggi decided the "good loot" was already taken so he's decided to take off with his money and find entertainment elsewhere.

We opened the session with a bit of housekeeping - selling treasure, spending points, and generally chatting. Once all of that was done, the group set off the caves to finish cleansing the evil shrine there, and hopefully to find the Lord of the Maze's lair and find his treasure.

The group made it with no encounters, which just goes to show I need to increase the odds of wandering monsters. They headed up the sides of the caves, across to the shrine mouth entrance, and into the caves.

Once again in the black-and-red shot carved complex, the headed left - the direction they hadn't gone last time. They found a few things - a corridor to a side room, a blocked corridor (not collapsed, but carefully blocked, quite a while ago), and a throne-like room. They looked into the throne room and saw a dozen skeletons in tattered mail and red-and-black uniforms, with shields and cleaver-like axes, standing around a raised throne of black stone decorated with bones. Nothing lurked up in the ceiling although it swirled and moved oddly, a purplish glow came from the throne, and the floor was a checkerboard of black and red tiles. The throne was capped on either side with a skull set with glittering gemstone eyes.

They were very careful here - they moved one scout in (Borriz, who can see well in low light with his Night Vision 5) and covered their lights. He peered in, checking the floor, the ceiling, and the skeletons. They even checked the floor to see if it was magical - it wasn't. Then they moved carefully into the room. They asked and learned that the skeletons stood only on the black tiles. Borriz aimed carefully at one and pitched his axe - it zoomed in straight and true and then turned to the side, away from the skeleton and the throne behind him and clanged in the corner. The skeletons continued to ignore them.

So Borriz checked each tile with his foot before fully weighting it with a step. Vryce refused to step on the red tiles at all, and Nakar levitated and was already invisible. Inq. Marco studied the ceiling, and felt himself being drawn into a strange trance but shook it off (thanks to high Will and his resistance to supernatural evil powers). At this point, once the PCs closed to melee distance with the skeletons, they attacked - but refused to move past their initial start line. Simultaneously, the skulls each shot a pair of purplish rays at Borriz and Vryce, the two closest people. Borriz failed his resistance, and was at -4 to all non-fleeing actions like in Bruno's house rules (see the comments). Still, he managed to smash up two skeletons anyway with his mace. He smashed up another before a second ray hit him, and thanks to the -4 for not running away he failed this badly and was at -10, and decided he had enough of scary skull magic and ran from the room.

From here the fight proceeded pretty normally. Vryce had a hard time breaking up the skeletons thanks to their reasonable defenses, good armor, and lack of vulnerability to his cutting attacks. Inq. Marco blasted one with a sunbolt (despite the magical missile shield) and set it on fire. And Nakar cast See Secrets and slowly looked around, making sure no one or no thing snuck up on them. Vryce then moved forward, repeatedly and casually shrugging off the fear rays (he has Fearlessness 4 and rolls Fright Checks at 16, which helped a lot). As soon as he got in range, he attacked the skulls. He nailed one, and then a second later shattered the other, too. The purple glow disappeared, the fear dropped away from Borriz, Inq. Marco cast Armor on himself and waded into melee, and the skeletons got bashed to bits. The burning skeleton finally dropped, too.

Before the group set to the usual routine of exorcism and cleansing, Borriz offered 10 sp to anyone who'd sit on the throne. Nakar took him up on it, and plopped himself down on the throne. He suddenly death-gripped the chair and his head dropped, and he began to twitch. Borriz grabbed at him and shoved/ripped him off the chair and tossed him at the feet of the dias. They checked Nakar - he'd suffered some HP and FP damage, and was twitching and convulsing. Someone - Inq. Marco? - poured a vial of holy water on Nakar. That stopped the convulsions and Nakar awoke. He angrily sputtered, "Get that holy water away from me!"

While on the chair, he had a perfect vision of the temple complex, enough for me to hand him a complete (unkeyed) map of the place. He also picked up a point of Hidden Lore (Demons). As he felt himself floating through the complex, tendrils of demonic knowledge started to seep into his brain. Just as he felt them penetrate, just as he felt they were within his grasp! - some jerk poured holy water on him. Bah!

Borriz happily handed over his 10 sp, saying it was the best 10 sp he ever spent. They then set to really dealing with the room. Nakar rested while Inq. Marco did his hour-long exorcism (again, well-prepped and the throne was already damaged). Vryce stood guard, and Borriz looted with Nakar's supervision. They picked up four gemstones from the skulls, non-magical but valuable.

After that, they headed out and checked out some other rooms, using Nakar's foreknowledge of the place to guide themselves to unsearched locations. The first was a big empty room, and Nakar joked that "My minions should have swept this place, I mean, the minions should have swept it" or something to that effect. Next, they found another shrine, more like a secondary altar covered with dried blood, in a room with skull-covered pillars and tapestry of cavorting demons sacrificing a human. They tore down the tapestry, exorcised the altar, checked the skulls, and then Inq. Marco cut out the human from the tapestry to "rescue" it. He botched his cutting attempts enough to make a mess of the job but in the end got it cut out successfully (and now has a piece of tapestry). They tried to burn the tapestry but it wouldn't burn without fuel, and they had precious little disposable fuel.

They head to the last area they needed to deal with - "downstairs."

They found a bedroom, and looted the hell out of that. They found a mirror, and also an oddity - three walls had tapestries, the other was painted red. Not very recently, but it had an old torch bracket in it that had clearly gotten painted along with the wall, and not used (no scorch marks). Inq. Marco carefully bubbled up the paint with a burning piece of chair leg (see, looted the hell out of, above) and flaked it off. He found an etching underneath. They set to, and found an outline of a humanoid figure. It had three-jointed six-fingered hands, was wearing a robe (detailed as poorly as a paper doll would be), had an oval face with round eyes, and was wearing a conical hat that included a half-face mask. Its other hand "held" an oddly shaped "torch." They decided the torch went to the bracket, and if they found the correct one, it might have a function. It didn't shift, move, twist, or turn, so maybe if they put the right thing in it . . .

Next up was a torture chamber, abandoned and with one brand missing out of a set of seven, and found a flipped-over straw bed and an empty stash hole. Aha. Some cultist fled with his stuff and a brand for marking cultists, they surmised.

After that, they found a cell (and left it for later), and a locked door with hinges on their side. They proceeded down, and found a bunch of sarcophagi at the bottom in a 6' ceilinged crypt. There was a leather-armored corpse on the floor, face down. Inq. Marco peered at it - blackened fingernails and hair, grey skin ("Almost white?" he asked. Heh.) It wasn't moving, but Inq. Marco chucked Aura on it - it was undead. Meanwhile Borriz kept nagging Inq. Marco to make his mace a flaming weapon, to no avail. So they got ready and threw Sunlight onto it. Pissed, it hopped up and charged - it was a wight (Jason's wight, actually). As they were briefly distracted by it, another wight jumped silently from the side and attacked Inq. Marco.

Borriz engaged the Jason Wight. Inq. Marco tried to turn them - but they managed to resist his mighty will and his blessed cross. One wight struck Inq. Marco, barely penetrating his new plate armor (formerly belonged to the EHP) and numbed and paralyzed him - claws, plus a follow-up FP attack and paralysis. D'oh! He was helpless, but at least he was well armored. Borriz wound up and smashed the wight in the skull twice, with hard power shots. It rocked but kept coming. Uh-oh. Flung holy water from Vryce's sling did some damage, sending up smoke from the struck wights, but they kept coming.

The fight was nasty - the Jason wight kept closing, the other wight kept ripping at Inq. Marco and used all-out attacks to try and damage him, and did on a few turns. Borriz kept whaling on his wight, and a Great Hasted Vryce finally dropped his sling and started to lay into the wight on Marco with his sword. Nakar turned Inq. Marco invisible to help protect him, and finally - within a second or two of each other - the wights fell. They'd both suffered well over a dozen blows each, maybe twice that. Nakar called the retreat. Vryce grabed Inq. Marco, finding him by feel, and they dragged him up the stairs. Vryce went back down, pushed one wight into the other, and then dumped alchemist's fire on them. 30 seconds of high-intensity burn damage later, the wights were no more than Luke's Aunt and Uncle - charred corpses. They closed the crypt door and rested. They'd been adventuring for hours at this point, most of which was fighting, exploring, or exorcisms. Now they just rested until Nakar was rested up, Inq. Marco became unparalyzed, and they were ready. They went back down and searched the crypts. They were careful and ready but all they found were gnawed bones and dry skeletons. But one crypt had a rusted chain belt with a gem-studded silver dagger and a magical broadsword hanging from it. They took those and left.

They went back and checked the cells, but it was empty and they didn't bother to search much. They then went to the storeroom Nakar had seen in his vision and searched that. They found mostly mundane goods, but there was a secret door. Despite the fact that they were tired, and it was about an hour past the time I needed to leave (Monday's an early work day for me), Nakar opened the secret door. Out popped a pseudopod and swiped at him. He phased out, annoyed he had to defend while invisible, and then fell back as a slugbeast (from DFM1) oozed out from behind the secret door. Vryce and Borriz lept into action. Vryce slashed it, trying to do two cuts, but the first shot cut deep and stuck in, and his sword began to sizzle with corrosion! Borriz aimed at an "eye" with his hatchet and buried it deep. It struck at them by Vryce dodged, and then grabbed his blade and yanked hard - and pulled it out. Finally, they managed to finish it off - Vryce tossed his blade aside and fast-drew his wooden spare and beat it, and Borriz chopped it up with his hatchet. It died, and oozed in a mess in and around the secret door and started to dissolve the dry goods and barrels and such.


That's were we left it, initially. They wanted to keep going, despite it being near nightfall. I said okay.

When I got home, I thought better of it. I really wanted to end each session with "you have to get to safe base if it's possible" and it was possible. It wasn't in the middle of combat. Leaving them frozen in that time meant I couldn't run another session without those four guys, and if Honus's player showed up I couldn't reasonably explain how he found them (even with tracking it would seem lame at best). So I retroactively - and I feel kind of a dick for doing that - emailed them today and said, you have to have left, and you get back to the keep unmolested and that's that. Really, I don't know if this was a good call or not, but I really feel better having done it. I shouldn't have offered the option to stay; I played late because I figured they could get those rooms checked and then say, okay, done with the shrine of chaos. Good call, bad call? Hard to say, we'll see how they feel about it. I feel better about it, because I don't want to start a precedent like that, in a game designed to allow hot-swapping of PCs and players between sessions. If they were in immediate danger or combat, well, that's different.

Other notes:

- I think my note sheet of advice, loosely based on the OSR Primer, helped remind them to be thorough. They were extremely thorough this session and found a lot. Maybe my note sheet didn't help at all, but we're all on the same page.

- Yeah, I gave wights paralysis and FP-draining powers. That seemed cooler to me.

- I like those Fear house rules, and so did my players, and they are dead easy to use. Win-win-win.

- they found a magic sword and no one wants it. Heh, there is a downside to a point-buy system, which is that changing weapons midstream is harder. We'll see if they sell it or not.

- yes, a lot of this stuff they found or encountered is very different from the original B2. I changed stuff to make it consistent with my overall game ideas and to make it more fun. And the Jason Wight reaches back to my childhood encounter with those wights! Why is that wight up and around? Because I let him out of his sarcophagus, and locked the door and ran off, back in '81.

- and what is that figure on the wall? Heheheheheheh. Nice, nice find by Inq. Marco. I'll give him +1 point for finding that, because his thoroughness and care in looking at it unlocked an interesting clue.


  1. The bit with the torch bracket is very Infocom-ish. Lots of examining there... not to mention using mundane loot items to uncover clues. Hmm, wonder what it's all about...?

    1. It is kind of Infocom-ish, isn't it?

      >Twist Torch bracket
      The bracket doesn't move.
      >Put my torch in torch bracket
      You don't have a my torch.
      >This game sucks
      I'm sorry, I didn't understand your command.

  2. Yay! We finally see the wights in action. Interesting take on their attack.

    I like that fear rule variant, at least conceptually. Glad to hear that it works well in practice.

    1. Thanks. Since level drain doesn't exist in GURPS, and it doesn't actually make much sense to have a "character point" drain, I decided to look to Rolemaster undead. There they do (long term) damage to your stats. I figured the lesson was, level draining undead are just nasty with unfair attacks, and made wights with that in mind.

      Claw attack + followup FP drain (if they penetrate DR) and a paralyzing touch (regardless of penetration) was just the ticket.

    2. So, it's an Innate Attack (Fatigue) with Follow-Up carried on the Claws. How is the Affliction (Paralysis) delivered (game-mechanically)?

    3. I think I just did it as an Affliction, Paralysis, with Cosmic (ignores DR). No Contact Agent or anything like that, since it works vs. armor.

      I tend to do my monsters a bit more DF-statblock style. As long as I know what it does, it's fine - I don't cost it out.

  3. Amazing games! I'm thinking about running a very similar one but I have a doubt. What are you using as currency? The prices and coins of the original B2 or the $ and equipment prices of GURPS?
    If you are using the original ones from B2, how do you do the conversion (for initial equipment, for exemple)?

    Keep the dice rolling!

    1. I'm using GURPS prices for everything, with $0.10 copper coins, $1 silver coins, and (somewhat larger and purer) $100 gold coins. That lets me use the rules straight out of GURPS without converting to D&D prices.

      When I look at an adventure to convert it, I eyeball the money and generally figure it's about D&D/AD&D 1 gp = GURPS $1, and then modify it from there based on what I think the actual reward should be. GURPS weapons and armor and upkeep costs a lot, though, so you have to err a bit on the higher side in my experience so far!

      Hope that helps.

  4. Yeah, I've had the magic weapon no one wants problem in D&D3e/3.5/Pathfinder as well. Someone takes Weapon Focus at first level, and then a masterwork anything else is useless, and a magic weapon of another type is useful, but not as much as they'd like, and the feat is going to waste.

    And exotic weapons? No one wants a magic whip: Not worth the feat to use it. Doubly so problems with large weapons. I really would like to run a game where you use whatever you find, no magic items for sale, or at least, they are quite rare.

    I think a system with broader weapon categories would help: then as long as it is a sword or blunt weapon it is likely to get used.

  5. "Really, I don't know if this was a good call or not, but I really feel better having done it. I shouldn't have offered the option to stay"

    IMHO Good Call


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